Thursday, August 24, 2017

You may soon need a 'remote pilot licence' to operate big drones in India

New Delhi: You may soon require a "remote pilot licence" (RPL) to operate drones in India that weigh beyond a certain cut-off weight. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is going to issue a draft rule for operating drones which will include this condition of RPL. The aviation regulator will issue these licences.
"China and US require people operating drones beyond 7 and 25 kg, respectively, to get an RPL. Our weight limit for requiring the same will be more stringent," said a senior DGCA official. At present, drones are not allowed in India and only government agencies like Power Grid and others with prior permission can operate them.
"The problem is not with the small toys flown by kids. There are big professional drones, the kind used for professional photography at events, which pose a challenge. The use of big drones has to be regulated," said a source. The DGCA will issue a draft civil aviation requirement in a few days to put rules in place for drone flying in India.
Australia's civil aviation safety authority, for instance, requires one to have a licence and/or be certified by it to fly a drone. It excludes commercial operators using small drones weighing less than 2 kg.
The US has rules for lighter drones, which does not a licence. The Federal Aviation Administration site says such small drones should be flown 8 km from airport and if one has to fly them within 8 km, the airport and ATC must be notified beforehand.
The Indian DGCA move comes after drones disrupted aircraft movement at Delhi's IGI Airport earlier this week. All the three runways had to be shut for almost an hour, disrupting flight schedules. Pilots flying in and out of several airports across India often complain of drone sighting on their flight paths.
24/08/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India