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Industry welcomes new drone rules, sees Rs 50,000 crore market potential

The government on Thursday announced the new “Drone Rules, 2021,” which ease the approval process, allow self certification and reduce the documentation and fees, were welcomed by the industry.

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These rules replace the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, which came into force in March this year.

“The new Drone Rules usher in a landmark moment for this sector in India. The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet on Thursday.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has reduced the number of forms to be filled to operate drones from 25 to 5 and the types of fees charged from the operator has been reduced from 72 to 4.

The rules increase coverage of drones from 300 kg to 500 kg, and will include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Besides, the new drone rules remove security clearance before any registration or licence issuance, reduce yellow zone from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter, and allow the use of micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones without remote pilot license.

“The issuance of these rules marks a new era in the Indian drone ecosystem which has a market potential of more than Rs 50,000 crore and can create 500,000 professional jobs in the next five years. The regulations, which cover drones up to 500 kg, will open up opportunities for indigenous manufacturing of delivery drones and drone taxis making India future ready. The establishment of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council which includes industry and academia showcases that the government recognises drone technology as a technology of national importance,” said Smit Shah, Director, Drone Federation of India.

The Centre may promote the adoption of drones and unmanned vehicles through the constitution of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council, according to the Rules, which would facilitate development of a business-friendly regulatory regime, including automated permissions, establishment of incubators and other facilities for the development of unmanned aircraft system technologies, involvement of industry experts and academic institutions in policy advice; and organising competitive events involving unmanned aircraft systems and counter-unmanned aircraft system technologies.

Industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) also welcomed the rules. “Approvals eased, coverage up to 500kg, #NPNT later with min 6 month lead time, nominal fee, low penalty, 12km yellow zone from airport & drones upto 200ft allowed in 8-12km from airport. Boost to #innovation #Startups,” the policy arm of NAsscom tweeted.

The penalty, in case of non observance of the new Rules, would not exceed Rs one lakh. The process will involve the Director General or an officer authorised by the Central Government or a State Government or Union Territory Administration, being satisfied that “a person has contravened or failed to comply with the provisions of these rules”. Business Standard

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