The Indian Drone Rules, 2021 were released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) of the Government of India (GoI) via a notification on August 25, 2021.

The notification aims to govern and control commercial use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in Indian airspace, and registration of all UASs on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) “Digital-Sky” platform has been made necessary.

Drone Flying Framework In Place: Key Takeaways For Operators

In addition, the entire airspace is divided into three zones: green, red, and yellow, with no prior authorization necessary for UAS operating in the green zone.

The UAS Traffic Management (UTM) parts of the notification were outlined in Part IX and aimed to facilitate automated authorization for operating the UAS, with a sixty-day deadline for a complete policy framework to be given.

The following are some of the important features of this policy framework aimed at setting standards, improving stakeholder communication, and giving situational awareness up to 1000 feet altitude (VLL-Very Low Level):

UTM Service Providers (UTMSP) are third-party public or private businesses that help government entities manage drone traffic in the VLL zone. The policy’s goal is to establish standards for information sharing and data exchange, allowing numerous UTMSPs to operate in each zone. The UTMSPs will be allowed to use various pricing methods, with a portion of the cost going to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Limited access to Digital Sky may be granted to approved UTMSPs, Supplementary Service Providers (SSPs), and manufacturers via Application Programming Interface (API). This would allow them to offer a variety of services, including drone registration.

Stakeholders include the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Airports Authority of India, and the Air Defence Clearance issuing authority. On a “need to know” basis, several law enforcement organizations would have access to the UTM ecosystem.
Real-Time Identification and Tracking (RIT) is an aspirational requirement with five minimal broadcast parameters: Unique Identification Number (UIN), Location data (Coordinates & Pressure Altitude), Timestamp, Heading & Ground Speed, and Emergency Status (C2 Link Loss etc.)

Under dynamic situations and in compliance with ICAO regulations, the system would allow for a manned-unmanned interface in Air Traffic Management (ATM) and UTM to give separation minima.
 The Government of India is set to issue a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) for time-limited (maximum six months) UTM experiments as part of its “evidence-based policy creation” activities. UTMSPs would be invited to take part in these discussions and provide technical requirements and standards that would apply to every aspect of the policy. Following that, a Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued, and UTMSPs would be onboarded after a stipulated evaluation process.

This framework allows for a stakeholder-led consultative process and engagement in order to alter and develop the framework, as well as for private parties to see this as a high-value commercial opportunity.

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