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India's New Drone Rules Could Tailwind the Industry

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The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s (MoCA) updates to the new Drone Rules 2021 drawforth a significant impact in the approval process, allowance of self-certification, as well as the reduction of documentation and fees in the industry. In light of setting ablaze those aspects, MoCA blended in trust, self-certification garnished with a good amount of non-intrusive monitoring. With all that set, it's now time for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules to leave the building and let the rules take flight.

The new rules blow a tailwind to the drone industry by cutting down on the paperwork for drone operations from 25 to 5 and better yet, MoCA has cut loose on the operator fees from 72 to a four. Drones flying with hefty payloads and drone tax will come under the wings of the new rules while drones are encouraged to gain some weight from 300 kg to 500 kg.

Before any registrations or license issues, the new rules will see to it that the 45 km yellow zones swoop down to 25 km from the airport perimeter, permit the use of micro and nano drones regardless of a remote pilot license. It will make sure to annihilate security screening way ahead of any registration or license issue.

Seeming the differences they bring, it’s predicted that the Indian Drone market is expected to land on $ 1.2 billion this year with the country contributing 4.25 percent of the world’s $ 28.47 billion this year according to BIS Research. The country is soon projected to soar into the skies with a multibillion dollar industry for the coming decades.

Positive Push to the Indian Drone Industry
Michael Jordan’s turning weaknesses into strengths strategy falls well with India, for the country is known for its overwhelming population, poor roads and air-last mile connectivity can be used as an advantage here. These weak points happen to suit the commercial operations of drones.

Even when the nation is known to fall behind other nations in terms of widespread drone adoption, it can use its weak points to carry out commercial drone operations smoothly. That’s right, these weaknesses open a brand new opportunity for the country to reach new heights with drones.

“The industry is going to get a boost,” says Neel Mehta, head of Asteria Aerospace, a drone technology company in which Reliance Industries has a significant stake.

Drones already possess what it takes to deliver immense market disruption potential in the commercial sector, with considerable benefits for Indian enterprises in terms of higher productivity, decreased staffing requirements, and lower prices, allowing them to become more competitive.

Speaking of air-last mile connectivity, the government is bent on addressing the problem in rural areas in hopes that drones would soon change that. To get closer to that goal, freight constructions have already set sail. Additionally, the government is on the brink of establishing a drone promotion council that levitates a more business friendly regime.

Keeping in mind those business goals, here’s what the government has set forth to land next.

The Launch of a New Digital Sky Platform
With a faith of delivering a more business friendly single window online system, there’s a New Digital Sky Platform coming through. This platform will allow most permissions to be self generated with only but a pint of human intervention. The platform will free up the skies to a new interactive aerospace map with colors of green, yellow and red zones, although drones will mostly be allowed to fly in red and yellow zones, but that’s a different story. Well, on the whole it means that drones can fly up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet between eight and 12 km from the airport perimeter without obtaining authorization, while the yellow zone has been decreased from 45 km to 12 km.

MoCA has Onboards 10 Entities Under the New Rules
The sooner word spread, 10 entities already began to show interest and MoCA did the honor of stamping its approval to them to fly drones under the new rules, although they happen to be a conditional exemption. This is done aiming to go forward with drone based aerial survey to create urban property ownership records in Bangalore. Here are some of the entities that now fly with those approvals.

The National Health Mission in Mumbai has been given permission to undertake experimental BVLOS drone flights in tribal communities of Jawhar in Maharashtra's Palghar district to supply crucial healthcare products.

While the Ministry of Urban Development has given Gangtok Smart City Development permission to perform a drone-based aerial survey for a smart city project, the Steel Authority of India's IISCO Steel Plant in Burnpur, West Bengal, will use drones to conduct perimeter surveillance of the plant.

Meanwhile, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mumbai, has gained authorization in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to perform drone-based agricultural trials and precision spraying on paddy and hot pepper crops, respectively.

Drones have also been approved for usage by Bayer Crop Science in Mumbai and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune. Drones will be used by Bayer for agricultural research and agricultural spraying, while IITM will use drones for atmospheric research.

New Rules Talk Money
The nascent drone sector in India has received a lot of attention recently, especially because of its importance in agriculture. To top it off, the Ministry of Agriculture recently received approval from the DGCA to utilize drones for yield estimation in 100 districts. General Aeronautics (GA) will be at the forefront of drone technology in India, catalyzing R&D across a wide range of applications. Mela Ventures led a Rs.65 million pre-series A' fundraising round for the startup, which specializes in drones for precision agriculture. The company intends to extend its go-to-market initiatives with this funding, and will continue to invest in areas such as high reliability and efficient spraying, operational support, and Drone Pilot training.

Drone operations by foreign-owned corporations registered in India will also be unrestricted under the new rules. According to industry experts, this decision is expected to attract new investment into the business. Despite the fact that significant details are missing from the draught rules, a number of things appear to be commercially feasible under these guidelines. The requirement for a UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit) has been eliminated for operators. Only a pilot's license will be required.

“The industry is going to get a boost,” says Neel Mehta, head of Asteria Aerospace, a drone technology company in which Reliance Industries has a significant stake.

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