The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has granted a conditional exemption to all entities under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) from the new drone rules. The new Unmanned Aircraft Rules were recently notified, on 12th March 2021. The exempted entities include agencies/organizations/departments/entities under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as State/UT Police.
The order exempts entities from the rules ‘until further orders. ‘Until further orders’ should mean until the Digital Sky platform is operational, as indicated by the Ministry in previous exemption orders.
Responsibilities of MHA
With the exemption, MHA is now also the designated authority for granting necessary permissions/exemptions to the exempted entities for drone operations. The MCA has also designated the MHA to frame necessary rules/guidelines/Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) related to operations drones. This includes technical specifications and a regulatory mechanism for the safe operation of drones by the exempted entities. Special attention needs to be given to areas inhabited by civilians and airspaces close to the drone’s flight path. This is a deviation to previous exemptions, where the exemption seeking authority used to submit SOPs and other details and the MCA used to lay out other conditions of exemption as well.
Prior approval of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) needs to be taken in the zones of controlled airspace before the commencement of the operation
The Unmanned Aircraft Rules, 2021
Prior to the 2021 Rules, Aircraft Rules, 1937 governed the operation of RPAS or drones. Exemptions were also granted as such. Rule 70 of the new 2021 Rules grant Central Government the power to exempt any unmanned aircraft system from the operation of the rules. These exemptions are being granted in view of the ongoing development of the Digital Sky Platform.
The list of exempted entities under the UAS Rules has been increasing. Last week, Indian Council for Medical Research was exempted to study drone-based vaccine delivery. Government exempted the Adani Defense Systems for counter-drone demonstrations. This exemption was given to the company for only one day. DGCA has also exempted Indian Oil to implement drone-based surveillance. It also exempted the Ministry of Agriculture to use drones for remote sensing data collection and the Kochi Metro for water transport system project.
You can read a copy of the order here.
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