Saturday, July 17, 2021

Drones are go in India – Directorate General of Civil Aviation releases draft regulations

It has been technically illegal to operate drones in India but at a recent press conference, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey said, “Drones are difficult to regulate. We’ve come up with draft CAR on UAS. There will be a stakeholder consultation for 30 days. After that, we will put out the final regulatory framework, which ensures ease of using drones while maintaining that it doesn’t breach of security.”

The magic 250g number comes to the fore once again, anything lighter than that will not need to be registered with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Platforms over 2kg AUW will need air defence clearance.

The Airports Authority of India and Indian Air Force shall monitor all RPA movements in the country. Electronic tracking is a requirement for everything above 250g in weight.

A worrying development that I hope does not ensnare model aircraft fliers, a minimum age of 18 will also be applied.

These are the weight classes being proposed.

Classification Size
Nano less than 250gm
Micro 250gm to 2kg
Mini 2kg to 25kg
Small 25kg to 150kg
Large greater than 150kg


The draft CARS propose heck of a jump from 2-25kg, 2- 10kg and 10 -25kg would seem more sensible.

But wait there’s more – as ever the devil is in the detail. I am sure much of this will be kicked out during the consultation process. Read the proposed CARs here, a few things immediately caught my eye.

Training, well that seems straightforward.

9.1 Remote pilot shall have attained 18 years of age with thorough ground training equivalent to that undertaken by aircrew of manned aircraft or a PPL holder (Aeroplanes/Helicopter) with FRTOL.
9.2 Remote pilots shall undergo thorough practical training on the control of a RPA in flight, which may consist of a proportion of simulated flight training.
9.3 The training shall include the following:
a) Basic Radio Telephony (RT) techniques including knowledge of radio frequencies.
b) Flight Planning and ATC procedures.
c) Regulations specific to the area of operations.
d) Basic knowledge of multi-rotors and fixed-wing operations.
e) No-fly zone awareness.
9.4 The training shall enable the remote pilot to demonstrate that he/she can control the RPA throughout its operating conditions, including safe recovery during emergencies and system malfunction.
9.5 The training requirements contained in Para 9.1 through 9.4 of this CAR are not applicable for Nano and Micro category RPA. However, the user shall be fully aware of his/her responsibilities to fly these machines safely.

This is where it starts getting interesting.


10.1 Maintenance and repair of RPAS shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s approved procedures, as applicable.
10.2 Maintenance of the ground control equipment shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended inspection and overhaul interval, as applicable.
10.3 The remote pilot/user shall not fly the RPA unless he/she is reasonably satisfied that all the control systems of RPA including the radio link are in working condition before the flight.
10.4 The UAOP holder shall maintain records (till the RPAS is in service) of each RPA flight and make such records available to the DGCA on demand. Such records shall be maintained as per the format given in Annexure-VII.

So begins the fun!

11.1 All RPA except Nano shall be equipped with the following serviceable components/equipment:
a) Identification Plate – normally fireproof and heavy
b) GPS for horizontal and vertical position fixing
c) Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return to Home (RH) option
d) Flashing anti-collision strobe lights
e) RFID and GSM SIM Card Slot for APP based tracking Who will administer this?

11.2 The RPA intending to operate at or above 200 ft AGL shall carry the following equipment/capabilities in addition to those specified in Para 11.1 of this CAR:

a) SSR transponder (Mode ‘C’ or ‘S’) or ADS-B OUT equipment – OK that can be done
b) Barometric equipment with capability for remote subscale setting – Humm nothing from DJI, for instance, does this
c) Geo-Fencing capability – Simples
d) Detect and Avoid capability – Best they explain that properly

11.3 Remote pilot shall be equipped with communication facilities to establish and maintain continuous two-way communication with the concerned ATS unit.

11.4 The GPS tracking system of the RPA shall be self-powered and tamper/spoofing proof to ensure data relay even in the event of RPA accident.

11.5 Airports Authority of India and Indian Air Force shall monitor RPA movements in the country.

I shall watch the consulation process with great interest.

Gary Mortimer
Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.