Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Drone woes: As regulatory delays persist, companies seek provisional fixes to fly drones in India

Indian drone users will have to wait longer to fly legally compliant drones as the government is yet to iron out several operational issues related to testing, certification, and quality control. With the civil aviation regulator missing its April 1 deadline for launching its Digital Sky platform for permitting drones to fly, manufacturers are seeking provisional approvals from authorities to begin operations.

India’s civilian drone law came into effect on December 1, ending a four-year ban on using drones that weigh more than two kilograms. The law lays down the obligations of operators, pilots and manufacturers for the safe operation of drones in Indian airspace. A month later, the civil aviation ministry unveiled its Drone Policy 2.0, which paves the way for wider applications of drones even beyond an operator’s visual line of sight.

The government even created Digital Sky as a single-window online platform for drone companies to apply for permissions and get instant approvals for flight operations, management and registration. This would make operations easy for enterprises running large fleets of drones for applications such as air surveys and food-delivery.
In fact, three days after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation green-flagged the use of drones in December, food-delivery platform Zomato announced its acquisition of drone startup TechEagle Innovations to enable a hub-to-hub food-delivery network.

While the government’s initiatives are likely to attract more investments into India’s drone sector, operational challenges around the proposed regulations continue to hold back an industry that’s estimated to grow to $885.7 million in size by 2021.
02/04/19 Nilesh Christopher/Factor Daily

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