The Ministry of Civil Aviation has granted a conditional exemption to the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) from the Unmanned Aircraft Rules, 2021. The exemption is for Indian Oil Corporation to implement drone surveillance. The scope of approval extends to UAV/ RPAS based surveillance of the Delhi-Panipat section of the MJPL pipeline.
The Unmanned Aircraft Rules were recently notified, on 12th March, 2021. Based on an undertaking given to the Ministry by IOCL, the Ministry has exempted it from the Rules for a year, subject to certain conditions. The order exempts IOCL from the rules for one year or ‘until further orders, whichever is earlier. ‘Until further orders’ should mean until the Digital Sky platform is operational, as indicated by the Ministry in the previous exemption orders.
Notably, the ceiling for exempted Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is 400 ft. above ground level.
The Unmanned Aircraft Rules, 2021
Prior to the 2021 Rules, Aircraft Rules, 1937 governed the operation of RPAS or drones and exemptions were also granted as such.
Rule 70 of the new 2021 Rules grants the Central Government the power to exempt any unmanned aircraft system from the operation of the rules.
Last month, the Government exempted the Adani Defence Systems for counter-drone demonstrations. This exemption was given to the company for only one day. The government had also exempted the Ministry of Agriculture to use drones for remote sensing data collection and the Kochi Metro for water transport system project. However, these exemptions were granted under Section 160 of the Aircraft Rules, exempting them from Section 3 of the Civil Aviation Requirements, Series X, Part I.
You can read a copy of the order here.
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