The Ministry of Civil Aviation invited comments to the draft Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules 2020. These are Ikigai Law’s comments to the draft rules. Ikigai Law has a market-leading drones law practice and has advised a variety of stakeholders: manufacturers, operators, importers, industry association, think tanks and racing leagues. The Economic Times named Ikigai Law a pioneer for its contribution to the drones policy in India.
We welcome the decision of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of introducing the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 and thereby creating a regulatory framework applicable to unmanned aviation which is distinct from the extant framework applicable to manned aviation.
In general, we feel that the rules should follow a principle-based approach that will lay out the DGCA’s objectives including (i) safety in airspace; (ii) a commitment to transparency; (iii) regular consultation and collaboration with the relevant stakeholders, including UAS operators; and (iv) regular testing and pilot projects, including through the use of regulatory sandboxes.
Given the importance of these rules and the impact that they will have on the Indian drone industry, we strongly advise that another short consultation period be opened after revisions to the rules are made in light of the comments received from all stakeholders.
A summary of our major comments is provided below:
- ‘Experimental UAS’ should be made a separate category of UAS.
- The classification of Nano UA should only be based on maximum all-up-weight and not be based on performance criteria. Nano UA should be exempted from authorisation and UIN requirements.
- There should be an exemption for Nano UAs and all UA prototypes being operated in designated testing sites from the mandatory insurance requirement.
- There should be an alternate authorisation framework to the Digital Sky Platform to prevent procedural delays in case of non-availability of the platform and strict timelines for approvals.
- There should be a single window authorisation framework which enables a person to undertake multiple activities i.e. owning, trading, operating, manufacturing, and importing a UAS with the same Unique Authorisation Number and through a unified application process.
- The ‘part or component thereof’ of a UAS should be clearly defined to prevent undue restrictions on the manufacture and import of certain parts. There should be a blanket permission to import certain standard components to reduce burden on the regulator.
- The Rules should provide an enabling framework for research and development, including necessary exemptions, temporary UINs and demarcated testing sites.
- Privacy by design should be incorporated as an essential requirement at both the manufacturing and operation stage.
- There should be certain exemptions to the mandatory No Permission No Take-off policy for all UAS, such as: (i) when the online platform is not operational; (ii) low connectivity in remote areas; and (iii) emergency situations.
- A savings clause should be introduced to protect actions taken in good faith by the DGCA and its officers.
- The procedure of inspection by the DG should be specified in the Rules in terms of: (i) record-keeping of inspection; (ii) treatment of evidence; (iii) particulars of order authorising inspection; (iv) conclusion of each inspection with the submission of an inspection report.
- The Rules should include a provision regarding ‘National Droneport Registry’ wherein registration of all drone ports is mandated to facilitate a systematic interoperable droneport ecosystem.
- There should be a maximum period of 60 days for the Director-General to sanction cognizance of any offence by the courts.
|S. No.||ISSUE||RELEVANT PROVISION||IKIGAI RECOMMENDATION||INTERNATIONAL PRACTICE|
|1)||Short title and extent|| Rule 1: Territorial applicability extends to the whole of India and shall also apply to : |
(i) Unmanned Aircraft System (“UAS”) registered in India (wherever they may be) or,
(ii) a person owning / possessing / engaged in importing, manufacturing, trading, leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining a UAS in India or, (iii) all UAS for the time being in or over India
|We recommend that the Rules clarify their applicability to ‘civil’ UAS only. For security reasons, there should be no overlap in the maintenance of records and manufacturing and import requirements pertaining to UAS used for civil operations and those used for defence purposes. |
To this end, we recommend the following changes to the language of Rule 1:
“1. Short title and extent. — (1) These rules may be called the Civil Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020.
(2) They extend to the whole of India and shall apply also (unless the contrary intention appears) – (a) to civil UAS registered in India, wherever they may be; or (b) to a person owning or possessing or engaged in importing, manufacturing, trading, leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining a civil UAS in India; or
(c) to all civil UAS for the time being in or over India.”
|2)||Definition of Model Remotely Piloted Aircraft System||Rule 2(24): Model Remotely Piloted Aircraft System has been defined as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (“RPA”) without payload used for educational or experimental purposes only and flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System.|| This rule has the potential to cause undue burden on hobbyist aeromodellers. Model RPAs may carry small payloads such as cameras and may be used for “Recreational Flying” apart from educational purposes. Further, a separate set of exemptions need to be carved out for “experimental” use of UAS. We recommend that this definition be modified as follows: “Remotely Piloted Aircraft |
|EXEMPTIONS FOR NANO UA|
|3)||Classification of Nano Unmanned Aircraft (“UA”)||Explanation to Rule 4: Nano UA that exceed maximum speed in level flight to 15 meters/second or maximum attainable height limited to 15 meters and range limited to 100 meters shall be treated as Micro UA.||We recommend that this provision should be removed and classification of UA should only be in accordance with its Maximum All-up-Weight. Classification on the basis of performance would require additional technology components to measure these parameters which is not feasible for Nano UAs. Owing to the limited payload capabilities and flight range of the Nano UA, the risk profile is in any case minimized. We recommend the following changes to the language: ||This recommendation is in line with the regulatory practice in the US, Australia and Singapore, amongst others.|
|4)||Exemptions for Nano UA||Part III and IV: Part III deals with authorisation of importer, manufacturer, trader, owner, and operator; and Part IV deals with import, manufacture, and maintenance of UAS.||Nano UA should be exempted from the authorisation requirements for traders, owners and operators. This category is predominantly used by hobbyists for Recreational Flying and as such are meant for retail sale. The risk profile of Nano UAS is sufficiently low to justify this exemption. Requiring owners, operators and traders of Nano UAs to seek authorization is akin to mandating registration of bicycles with the Road Transport Office. |
To effect the above recommendation, the following rule should be added: “(1) The Rules contained in Parts III and IV shall not be applicable to Nano UAS.
(2) The Director-General may specify further manner and procedure to for the authorisation, import, manufacture and maintenance of Nano UAS.”
|5)||Registration of Unique Identification Number (“UIN”)||Rule 19: UA are required to obtain UIN.||We recommend that Nano UAS should be exempt from registration of UIN. |
The CAR exempted Nano UAS from the requirement of obtaining a UIN. Imposing the requirement of UIN through these Rules is unduly burdensome as Nano UAS are often restricted in use and purpose. The exemption should be replaced in these Rules, with any modifications as follows:
“UAS in Nano category intended to fly upto 50 feet AGL in uncontrolled airspace/ enclosed premises for commercial / recreational / R&D purposes are exempted from obtaining UIN.”
|The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), USA exempts UAS weighing less than 250 grams (0.55 pounds) from registration. |
Singapore has a blanket exemption for UAS weighing below 7 kg used for non-commercial purposes from registration.
|6)||Need for and alternate authorisation framework to the Digital Sky Platform (“DSP”)||Rule 6 read with Schedule 1: |
All authorisations and registrations must be through the DSP.
The DSP is yet to attain full functionality and as a technology infrastructure layer it will be subject to periodic maintenance and upgrades. Having only one means of obtaining all permits, licenses, and authorisations can create a bottleneck which can bring the entire industry to a halt, as is currently the case. We recommend that a back-up system (perhaps paper based) for submission of applications be introduced which can be resorted to in situations when the DSP is not operational. A strict timeline for approvals through this system should be mandated ensuring that industry operations are not delayed. A higher administrative fees can be considered for applications submitted through this alternate means.
We recommend that in all provisions requiring that the application be submitted through the DSP, the following be added to facilitate the above recommendation:
“In the event that the Digital Sky Platform is unavailable or in-operational, the person may submit the application though email addressed to [insert email address] or via post addressed to Director General of Civil Aviation Opposite Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi-110003, along with proof of payment of requisite fees. The Director General shall acknowledge receipt of such application with 48 hours of receipt of the same. The processing of such applications submitted via email or post must be completed within (__) days of receipt by the Director General.”
|7)||Eligibility to become an authorised person||Rule 7: Only an Indian citizen can become an authorised person under the eligibility criteria.||We recommend that the Rules are amended to permit Indian residents to obtain authorisation to become an Authorised UAS Operator / Owner / Trader / Manufacture / Importer under the Rules.|
|8)||Unique Authorisation Number||Rules 8 & 9: The requirements for an Authorised UAS Importer / Manufacturer, / Trader / Owneror Operator to obtain an authorisation number and in case of change of credentials, the new authorisation required by the DG.||We recommend that the Rules should be amended to enable a person to obtain authorisation to undertake multiple activities under the five (5) categories i.e. owner, trader, operator, manufacturer and importer, through a unified application process and with the same authorisation number to enable a single window authorisation framework. This would reduce the number of the authorisations required to be obtained and the paperwork involved. For example, an Authorised UAS Owner may also be an Authorised UAS Operator, and under the current Rules, would be required to obtain authorisation twice. |
We recommend that the Rules should be amended to incorporate provisions to ensure time-bound clearance for such authorisation. We recommend the following changes to the language:
“8. Authorisation Number. — (1) Any person fulfilling the requirements under rule 6 may make an application in the manner and procedure specified in Schedule I for obtaining an authorisation number to act as an Authorised UAS Importer, Authorised UAS Manufacturer, Authorised UAS Trader, Authorised UAS Owner and / or Authorised UAS Operator.”
“Form UA-1: Application for issuance or renewal of Authorisation Number to Importer, Manufacturer, Trader, Owner and / or Operator.
Select the appropriate category or categories”
|9)||Authorisation required for ‘part or component thereof’||Rules 12(2)(a) & 14: Authorisation required for import and manufacture of a UAS or any part or component. Import clearance may be recommended to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (“DGFT”), who may then issue an import license for import of UAS.|| We suggest that ‘part or component thereof’ be defined. |
Approval required for import of UAS or a part or component should be limited to cases in which the entire UAS is imported or major components are imported, but not be applicable to individual components. This is because some components used in UAS such as motors, sensors and batteries are also used in other industries.
Alternatively, we recommend that there should be a blanket permission for import of certain standard components or popular and reliable models of UAS to reduce burden on regulators, developers and users of UAS. For other parts of the UAS, a timeline of 30 days may be prescribed for approval from the DG.
Since India’s UAS industry will benefit from access to foreign technology, such processes must be relaxed and a single window clearance from both the DG and DGFT can be considered.
|10)||Authorised UAS trader or owner||Rule 20: Only Authorised UAS Traders / Owners shall buy or sell or lease / own a UAS.||At present, Rule 20 contradicts Rules 25 and 26, insofar that Rule 20 permits only Authorised UAS Traders to buy / sell / lease a UAS, whereas Rules 25 and 26 also permit Authorised UAS importers / manufacturers to sell or lease a UAS to an Authorised UAS Trader / Owner / Operator. We recommend that this contradiction can be rectified by amending Rule 20 as follows: |
“Trading of UAS in India. — No person other than an ‘Authorised UAS Trader’ or an ‘Authorised UAS Manufacturer’ or an ‘Authorised UAS Importer’ shall engage in buying or selling or leasing of a UAS or a part or a component thereof in India.”
|11)||Airworthiness standards||Proviso to Rules 15 & 16: Provided that this rule shall not apply in case of UA in Large class weighing more than 300 kgs, and for such UAS, the provisions related to airworthiness as provided under Part VI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 shall be applicable.||Airworthiness standards are laid down under part VI of Aircraft Rules, 1937. The Rules make a reference to them but do not specify modifications to those standards. |
We suggest that the Rules should provide an updated airworthiness standard in light of ‘Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight Operation’(“BVLOS”) operations as the reliability concerns are heightened. These updated airworthiness standards would require safety by design (to ensure safe design, manufacture, and maintenance standards); security by design (e.g. implementing end to end security by ensuring continuous monitoring, sense and avoid capabilities, and standardised emergency response), and privacy by design (where privacy is the default setting).
If could further include assessment of compliance with (i) the specific procedures contained in the maintenance program recommended by the manufacturer; (ii) proper training and qualification of maintenance personnel; and (iii) proper recording of maintenance actions.
Further, the Rules should clarify which authority is responsible for the formulation of airworthiness standards and systems standards.
|We recommend that airworthiness standards adopted by other jurisdictions should be referred to such as the FAA in USA and Civil Aviation Authority (“CAA”) in the UK, or as proposed in the Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap’s recommendations. regarding higher risk standards- safety by design, security by design, privacy by design.|
|NATIONAL SECURITY AND PUBLIC INTEREST|
|12)||Exemptions by Central Government from UAOP||Rule 29(4): Exemption by the Central Government from requirements of operator permit in the interest of security of India or in national interest.||We recommend that the exempted use of UAS for the purpose of surveillance should be restricted. The Rules should further clarify the instances included within ‘interest of security of India or in national interest’ .||Paris-based Conseil d-Etat (No.s 440442, 440445 dated May 18, 2020) banned use of drone surveillance to enforce lockdown rules.|
|PRIVACY BY DESIGN|
|13)||Privacy by design||Rule 35: Imagery captured by a UA except in the non-permissible areas is allowed after ensuring the privacy of an individual and his property.|| This provision can be be further strengthened by going beyond ensuring obligations of privacy alone. We recommend that the Rules must mandate privacy by design as an essential element of all UAS. Privacy by design ensures that the design, hardware, and software of the UAS comply with privacy and security requirements at the manufacturing and operation stage. |
For example, in the context of cameras installed in a UA for surveillance purposes, people on the ground should have sufficient transparency and visibility of the activities of the UA which is capturing them. Data of individuals such as sound, location, image, etc. captured through sensors installed in a UA’s software can be classified as personal data of an individual. In that case, such activities should be in compliance with applicable personal data protection rules. End-to-end security features must be incorporated in the entire life cycle (collection, storage, transmission and erasure) of data that the UA captures and processes, in compliance with data minimisation and retention principles. Further, unauthorised access to data stored locally on the UA should be prevented through access controls.
Manufacturers of UAS must make sure that the hardware and software used is privacy and security compliant. For example, sense and avoid systems and software that help UA automatically detect objects and navigate around them safely typically rely on imaging technologies to map their physical environment. When designing and building a UA, the Rules should ensure that manufacturers should pay attention to the fact that the type and quality of sensors that need to be installed in UA are operation specific, i.e. check whether they need to capture data of high or low quality, consider what kind of sensors are appropriate for it depending what kind of operations it will be used for, also depending on the targeted customers of the UA. This would ensure that the quality of images captured need not always allow the identification of people recorded, as it would not be proportionate to install a very powerful camera on a UA intended for recreational activities.
Manufacturers must ensure that all components used in the UA are compliant with security standards or certification schemes for security of data and communication. A direct remote identification system can ensure in real time, during the whole duration of the flight, the direct periodic broadcast from the UA. The UA must be equipped with geo-fencing capabilities to alert pilots or operators when flying in a restricted no-fly zone.
Manufacturers should consider appropriate safeguards during landing in unplanned locations, which can be prevented with functionality to make the UA automatically return to its take off point in cases of emergencies and errors or to go back and hover at a previous location while re-establishing a data link connection.
We recommend that a provision with the following language should be incorporated to ensure the above:
“The UAS operator and manufacturer shall, keeping in mind the type of the intended operation and the risk involved, be required to incorporate privacy by design principles in all UAS and their operations, and also ensure that all operations are compliant with laws relating to the protection of personal data.”
|Privacy by design requirements are to be incorporated in drones operated in the European Union (“EU”) by the EU Aviation Safety Agency Regulation (“EASA”). Under the , Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, regardless of the category of drone operation, drone operators and pilots will carry certain privacy and data protection responsibilities pursuant to the General Data Protection Regulation that they will need to comply with. We have elaborated on certain best practices in the EU for the scope of our recommendations.|
|NO PERMISSION-NO TAKE-OFF (“NPNT”) CLEARANCE|
|14)||Mandatory NPNT for all UAS||Rule 30: Permission must be obtained on DSP for flight of a UA, under the NPNT policy.|| We recommend that exemptions to this rule should be made in the following circumstances: |
(i) in situations where the online platform is not operational;
(ii) in cases where operations are being carried out in remote areas which do not have access to internet; and
(iii) where operations are required to be done in emergencies like natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. In such situations, UAS can be used for life-saving reconnaissance purposes and should not be halted due to NPNT requirements.
We recommend adding the following proviso to Rule 30(1): “Provided that the below-mentioned circumstances shall be exempted from the application of sub-rule (1), and will instead be required to submit details of the flight within 7 days of the flight:
(i) where the online platform is not operational; (ii) where operations are being carried out in remote areas which do not have access to internet; and (iii) where UA operation are being undertaken towards life-saving measures during emergencies or natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods.”
|POWERS OF DG|
|15)||Security clearance||Rule 8(3): Security clearance to be obtained by DG if considered necessary.|| The Rules state that the DG may obtain security clearance, if considered necessary, in case of directors or top managerial personnel of corporate bodies. |
Under the Rules, Form UA 1 contained in Schedule I for obtaining authorisation number are different for individuals and companies/body corporates (Part and B respectively). However, only the latter requires details of security clearance.
We recommend that Rules should be amended to specify the instances in which the DG shall consider it ‘necessary’ to obtain the security clearance on behalf of the applicant under this Rule and lay down procedure for the same. Clarity should be provided if there are instances in which the applicant shall be required to do so, separately before applying for the authorisation number.
|16)||Discretion in holding consultations on CARs||Rule 56(2): Power of DG to dispense with the requirements of holding consultations on CARs.|| We recommend that the provision vesting power with the DG to dispense with the requirement of consultations on CARs should be modified. In situations where the requirement of public consultations has been dispensed with, it should be mandatory to conduct a post-facto consultation. Such consultations are essential for the development of the industry and consultative policymaking brings transparency to decision making. We recommend the following changes to the language: |
“Provided that the Director General may, in the public interest and by order in writing, dispense with the requirements of inviting such objections and suggestions or reduce the period for submitting such objections and suggestions.
Provided that in situations where the requirement of inviting objections and suggestions is dispensed with or such time period is reduced, the Director General shall as soon as feasible and in no event later than 30 days after the issuance of the Civil Aviation requirement, Circular or special direction, invite objections and suggestions from all persons likely to be affected thereby.”
|17)||Inspection||Rule 59: Power to inspect any UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management System (“UTM”) facility or any other related facility before granting any authorization, license or certificate by an order in writing.|| We recommend that safeguards are put in place to ensure that powers of inspection are not used as a tool for intimidation and harassment. It is imperative that such inspection is conducted with due process, kept confidential, and causes the least amount burden on, or disruption to, the business of the importer, manufacturer, trader, owner or operator of UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, UAS training organisation or a UTM facility under inspection. It should be the exception and not the norm, that inspections are conducted unannounced and outside reasonable working hours and we recommend that suitable modifications are made to the Rules to ensure this as far as possible. |
Further, we recommend that the Rules be amended to incorporate detailed procedure for the conduct of inspections, including:
(i) record-keeping of the details of the inspection;
(ii) treatment of evidence collected during the inspection, especially in relation to documents and records; 
(iii) an order authorising the inspection containing the particulars described below;  and
(iv) conclusion of each inspection with the submission of an inspection report, documenting all details of the inspection; and
(v) inspections are conducted with sufficient notice, To effect the above recommendations, the following sub-rules may be added to Rule 59:
“(2) The Director-General shall serve a notice of inspection to the entity being inspected at least 7 days before the commencement of inspection: Provided that where the Director-General is satisfied that the notice will cause undue delay in inspection or there is an apprehension that records of the UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, UTM facility or any other related facility may be destroyed, mutilated, altered, falsified or secreted, after the notice is served, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, dispense with such notice.
(3) The officer authorised under sub-rule (1) shall be required to submit an inspection report to the Director-General documenting all details related to the inspection, which shall also be made available to the UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, UTM facility or any other related facility under inspection.
(4) The order authorising inspection referred to in sub-rule (1) shall contain:
(i) the scope of inspection;
(ii) the reason(s) for the inspection; (iii) the details of the inspecting officer;
(iv) the timelines for conducting the inspection; and
(v) the timelines for submission of inspection report.
(4) If during the course of an inspection, in case any documents or records are seized or taken from any UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, UTM facility or any other related facility or personnel thereof for the purposes of evidence, it should be ensured by the officer/inspector that:
(i) the person from whom such evidence is collected is given a receipt;
(ii) the evidence is clearly marked in an identifiable manner;
(iii) reasonable care is taken to preserve and protect the evidence; and
(iv) continuity of possession of evidence is assured and the same are returned after the conclusion of the inspection.
(5) The Director General and the officer/inspector shall keep the inspection confidential and to cause the least burden on, or disruption to, the business of the UAS, UAS manufacturing, storage, maintenance facility, UTM facility or any other related facility under inspection. ”
|18)||DGCA Enforcement Policy and Procedures Manual and Surveillance Procedure Manual||NA||We recommend that there should be an equivalent of the DGCA Enforcement Policy and Procedures Manual and Surveillance Procedure Manual applicable to passenger aircrafts for UAS with suitable modifications to the same. Such Manuals should also be released in the public domain for complete transparency.|
|THIRD PARTY INSURANCE|
|19)||Insurance||Rule 52: Valid third party insurance to cover liability that may arise on account of a mishap involving such UA and causing death or bodily injury to any person or damage to property.|| We recommend that the provision should not apply to (i) Nano category UA; and |
(ii) prototypes flown in designated test sites. As explained above, the risk profile of the Nano category is sufficiently low and the requirement of insurance will be an unnecessary burden. In the case of or prototypes insurance may not be easily available because the risk profile of the equipment and the experiment is not easily understood. As long as the testing of prototypes is carried out from designated test sites (which are typically built in remote areas away from population or infrastructure) and are subject to supervision available at the test site, this activity should be freed from insurance requirements. This will provide the necessary encouragement to research and development which includes prototyping.
We also recommend that clarity should be provided on whom the obligation to obtain insurance lies i.e. Operators or Owners. We recommend that this obligation be placed on the Authorised UAS Owner. We recommend the following changes to Rule 52: “52.
Insurance of UAS. —
(1) No UA, except Nano UA, shall be operated in India unless
(2) The compensation payable in such cases shall be assessed in such a manner and procedure as specified in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and rules made there under.”
|DRONE PORTS AND CORRIDORS|
|20)||National Droneport Registry||NA||We recommend incorporation of a provision for a ‘National Droneport Registry’, wherein all drone ports must be registered to facilitate a systematic interoperable droneport ecosystem. This droneport registry should be made available online, so as to improve transparency. This will also facilitate emergency landing and take off activity.|
|21)||Competent authority for drone corridors|| Rule 2(17): |
‘Drone corridors’ are defined as a segregated airspace or path defined by competent authorities for the operation of UAS.
| We suggest that the Rules must include the definition of ‘competent authority’ that has the power to define drone corridors. |
Further, the definition of the segregated airspace as a drone corridor should be made by the competent authority in consultation with airspace designers to ensure better traffic management, in line with the recommendations of the 2019 Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap.
Finally, the definition of drone corridor should make it clear that it is an airspace segregated from the flight paths of manned aircrafts, and not necessarily separate from the airspace where manned aircrafts operate.
|22)||Requirement to establish drone corridor|| Rule 42: |
Drone corridors may be established in permitted areas, if warranted by the nature and requirements of UAS operation.
| The provision should expressly state that traffic in the drone corridor should be managed via the UTM system. Further, to mitigate risk concerns, the DGCA can mandate that all BVLOS operations will only take place in a specified drone corridor. |
The Rules should clarify that in the segregated airspace, the drones can fly, without necessarily requiring to communicate with the air traffic control.
Finally, the Rules should include the principles that should be kept in mind while designing the drone corridor, such as the need to restrict human presence, the operational and flight characteristics of drones, and any ground risks (such as collision) that would need to be avoided. To address concerns of security, certain sensitive areas (such as defence installations) can be marked as “No Fly Zones”.
|UNMANNED TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SYSTEM|
|23)||Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management System||Rule 46: The Central Government may establish an UTM in Indian airspace or any part thereof, if warranted by the nature and requirements of UAS operation.|| The Rules should provide clarity and details regarding the proposed UTM. To ensure that the UTM can run alongside DGCA’s air traffic management system, the Rules should emphasise the importance of data exchange protocols, information architecture, communication and navigation, sense and avoid, and software functions. |
The application and approval process for airspace authorisation can be automated such as in the US Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability system. BVLOS operations should be incorporated within the UTM framework through a separate chapter on UTM, which identifies airspace operation requirements that will enable BVLOS operations. Such requirements, that will help facilitate
BVLOS operations, while simultaneously maintain drone traffic, may include parameters for registration, airspace authorization, identification of nearby drone operators for data exchange, sharing flight intent and monitoring compliance with it, and weather surveillance. The final parameters can be laid out by the DGCA after collaborating with industry and through repeated testing.
|Many countries such as Australia, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Japan have been implementing UTM systems. In the U.S., the FAA has released a Research Transition Team Plan that has integrated BVLOS operations within the UTM framework.|
|24)||Facilitate BVLOS operations|| Rule 2(10): |
BVLOS are defined as an operation in which the remote pilot or the observer does not use visual reference to the RPA in the conduct of flight.
| We recommend that the Rules should expressly incorporate a provision that facilitates and allows BVLOS operations. Such a provision should lay out DGCA’s guiding principles behind regulating BVLOS operations, including a commitment to transparency regarding the BVLOS application process and a recognition of the need for regular industry collaboration and stakeholder collaboration. |
In order to address the security/risk concerns associated with BVLOS operations, the DGCA should ask operators to satisfy them on two questions: (a) how they will ensure the safety of the operations; and (b) what are the potential risks and difficult circumstances that could arise, and what plans have been put in place to handle it. These can be included as part of a risk assessment framework so that the operational risk assessment and mitigation measures for BVLOS operations can be conducted in a structured manner.
|International best practice (the FAA, EASA, and the UK) permit BVLOS operations after conducting the necessary risk assessments and mitigation measures (such as the one proposed here). In 2019, the FAA permitted the first ever authorised BVLOS operation without mandating a visual observer or ground based radar.|
|25)||Research and Development (“R&D”)||NA||We recommend that the Rules should include provisions on R&D as it is essential to the functioning of the UAS industry. A separate online registration mechanism for testing of UAS which are under development must be established such that authorizations can be obtained from the DG for UAS which are still in the development stage. Further, authorisation requirements must be relaxed when UAS is used for R&D purposes. It is recommended that the Rules clarify compliance requirements to be met when the UAS is in the development stage.|
|26)||Temporary UIN for Test Flights|| Rule 17: |
Every UAS is required to carry a UIN.
|There should be a provision for grant of temporary UIN for test flights for manufacturing / R&D. An enabling regulatory framework for R&D, and in particular for test flights will allow India to maintain a lead in the UAS industry. A provision for temporary UINs that can be awarded quickly for evolving prototypes will facilitate R&D.||The FAA and CAA currently provide a special certificate in the experimental category / permit to fly to enable operations at a constrained level. These certificates are provided on a case to case basis. The FAA has already issued hundreds of airworthiness certificates.|
|27)||Test Sites / Free Fly Zones||The DG in consultation with concerned agencies should designate test sites in various parts of the country where approved UAS Operator Permit (“UAOP”) holders may test prototypes of all weight-categories pursuant to a fast-track approval and without other requirements such as insurance. In the interim the test sites listed in Annexure XII of the CAR should continue to operate as designated test sites.||FAA provides for UAS Test site programs.|
|OFFENCES AND PENALTIES|
|28)||Classification of offences|| Rule 63: |
The offences listed in Rule 63(1) are classified as cognizable and non-bailable offences. Further, No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under the Rules unless previous sanction from the DG has been obtained in writing.
| We recommend a maximum period time of 60 days within which the DG to sanction cognizance of offences by the Courts. Further, the offence of operating a UA without insurance ought not to be a cognisable and non- bailable offence which is consistent with the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. We recommend the following changes:|
“63. Classification of Offences- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), the violation of sub-rule (1) of rule 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, sub-rules (1) and (2) of rule 30, sub-rule (1) of rule 31, sub-rule (1) of rule 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40,
(2) No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under these rules without the previous sanction in writing by the Director-General. The Director-General shall, by an order, either give sanction or refuse to give sanction within sixty days of the receipt of the request in this behalf.”
|29)||Savings clause for actions taken in good faith||NA|| We recommend a savings clause must be provided for in the Rules to protect the actions taken by the DG in good faith, as extensive discretionary power vests with the DG under the Rules. |
This could be as follows: “No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government, the Director General or any person acting on their behalf for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of these Rule, Civil Aviation Requirements or orders made thereunder.”
|30)||Detect and Avoid requirement|| Schedule II- Section A, (2) & (5): |
‘Detect and avoid’ capability are a mandatory requirement in an UA.
|We recommend that the ‘Detect and Avoid’ requirement should be restricted to instances where the UA intended to be used in special operations involving flight over crowds of people. Such a requirement for all UA is onerous, especially seeing how such technology is still being developed world over.|
|31)||Map of flight permissible areas||Rule 27(1): |
UAS are permitted to fly only in permissible areas identified in the available map on the online platform.
|This Rule should not be made operational until such a map is made available on the online platform.|
|32)||Outsourcing preliminary processes for authorisation and obtaining registration||NA|| The DG may appoint an organisation with individuals having appropriate credentials and experience in design, manufacture, operations and testing of UAS to conduct time-bound preliminary grant of UIN and UAOP, and to coordinate with various government agencies for the same. |
The organisation shall also be qualified and permitted to counsel the applicant for a fee on completing the application and meeting the standards prescribed or expected by the DG for final approvals. Such a two-tier process will be beneficial for both the regulator and the industry.
The DG will benefit from lower workload since the preliminary evaluation will be done by an external agency and the applications forwarded to the DG will be in line with the expectations of the DG. The industry will benefit from faster turn-around and handholding which otherwise the regulator will neither be able to nor permitted to offer.
|Worldwide, aviation regulators are being subjected to an increased workload and resource crunch because of the number of industry applications for approvals. The CAA has appointed an external agency (EuroUSC) to evaluate and recommend organisations to the CAA for grant of exemption for certain operation approvals. EuroUSC is permitted to counsel such organisations for a fee and help them meet design standards that may be acceptable to the CAA.|
 Paragraph 6.2, Civil Aviation Requirements on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
 Federal Aviation Administration, Aircraft Registration, available at https://Www.Faa.Gov/Licenses_Certificates/Aircraft_Certification/Aircraft_Registry/Ua/
 Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, UA Pilot Licence, available at https://Www.Caas.Gov.Sg/Public-Passengers/Unmanned-Aircraft/Ua-Regulatory-Requirements/Ua-Pilot-Licence
 Ministry Of Civil Aviation, Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap January 2019, available at https://Www.Globalaviationsummit.In/Documents/Drone-Ecosystem-Policy-Roadmap.Pdf
 medianama, Top French Court Bans Drone Surveillance In Paris For Enforcing Covid-19 Lockdown; Lessons For India, available at https://Www.Medianama.Com/2020/05/223-France-Ban-Drones-Coronavirus-Surveillance/
 Privacy-By-Design Guide A Drone Rules Eu Pro Resource For Drone Manufacturers, available at https://Dronerules.Eu/Assets/Files/Drpro_Privacy_By_Design_Guide_En.Pdf
 Regulation (Eu) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 4 July 2018, available at https://Eur-Lex.Europa.Eu/Legal-Content/En/Txt/?Uri=Celex:32018r1139
 DGCA Enforcement Policy and Procedures Manual, available at http://220.127.116.11/manuals/Enforcement%20Policy%20and%20Manual.pdf
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 FAA and NASA, UTM Research Transition Team Plan, 2017, available at https://www.faa.gov/uas/research_development/traffic_management/media/FAA_NASA_UAS_Traffic_Management_Research_Plan.pdf