Friday, September 16, 2022

India needs drone trackers to ensure national security, says outgoing civil aviation ministry official

An outgoing policymaker at the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has urged stakeholders in the country’s fledgling drone sector to self-regulate by implementing trackers for easier monitoring of their craft.

“I would like to ask the industry to introduce trackers at the earliest. And we have a government that is inviting the industry to formulate its regulations,” said joint secretary MoCA, Amber Dubey, who is also in charge of the drone division.

Dubey, whose three-year term ends on Friday, warned that otherwise, another incident like the June 2021 attack by two enemy drones on an Indian Air Force base in Jammu might result in a widespread ban on drone flights across the country.

“Did we in the government lose? That incident made things easy for us as we just went ahead with the ban on drone flights in several areas of Jammu & Kashmir to avoid a recurrence. However, a similar ban may take the industry back by five years!” remarked Dubey.

Trackers are essentially miniaturised GPS, radio frequency, Bluetooth or buzzer devices placed on drones for easy detection. More importantly, like the number plate on a car or the IMEI number on a mobile handset, they help in identifying the owner of the flying machine.

“Anything that moves, especially anything that flies in our sovereign airspace, needs to be monitored through an identifier,” said Dubey.

Dubey has for long been urging industry groups, the Drone Federation of India (DFI) and drone associations in states to work with the government to come up with a draft notification on trackers after finalising those standards. Terming the delay on their part as unfortunate, he said that it may even lead to the ministries of home affairs and defence questioning their intent soon.

16/09/22 Manish Pant/Business Today

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