Drone Regulations in India

A Drone, in technical terms, is known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The Unmanned Aerial system consists of 3 elements:

  1. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 
  2. Ground Controller 
  3. System of connection between UAV and the ground controller.

A UAV is an unmanned aircraft (No human pilot onboard) which is remotely controlled by a pilot. The main components of UAV include body, sensors, actuators, power supply, software, etc.

Initially, the use of UAVs was majorly in the field of defence. But with time the use of drones extended to numerous fields like commercial, research, scientific, etc.

Applications of drones are increasing in various simple and complex tasks every day. Therefore, it is essential to regulate drone operations to ensure the safety, security, and privacy of citizens.

The Indian Government has taken prompt steps to build an ecosystem for the safe and secure development of Drone applications.

Policy Steps were taken By Government of India

Civil Aviation Requirements 1.0[1]

The Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation of Government of 

India issued CIVIL AVIATION REQUIREMENTS SECTION 3 – AIR TRANSPORT SERIES X PART I (CAR) on 27th August 2018.

These requirements are also known as Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Government of India (MCA) launched Digital Sky[2], an online platform for registration of drones. 

CAR 1.0 focuses on VLOS (Visual Line of Sight) operations.

 CAR regulates the following affairs

  1.  Issuing an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)
  2. Issuing a Unique Identification Number (UIN)
  3. Other operational requirements for civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

Categorization of RPA

CAR has categorized the RPA’s into 5 categories:

  1. Nano RPA – Less than or equal to 250 grams. 
  2. Micro RPA – Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg. 
  3. Small RPA – Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg. 
  4. Medium RPA – Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.  
  5. Large RPA – Greater than 150 kg.  

Procedure to Apply

Every RPA except the following will need UIN 

  • Nano category intended to fly up to 50 feet (15 m).
  • Owned/operated by NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies

UIN will be granted to those RPAs which are owned by the following entities:

  1. A citizen of India
  2. Central and State Government or any other entities owned 
  3. Companies or Corporate bodies which 
  4. Have registered office or place of business in India 
  5. Have a Chairman and at least two-thirds of the directors are Indian citizens. 
  6. Or dominant ownership and effective control rests in India 
  7. UIN number can also be granted to RPAs which are owned by the Companies which are not registered in India but have leased it from the Company or Corporate bodies mentioned above.

The UIN application has to be submitted through the Digital Sky platform to the DGCA.

Documents Required for Issuing UIN

  1. Contact details of Owner/Lessee( CIN, GSTIN, PAN card)
  2. Purpose of operation
  3.  Base of operation
  4. Specifications of UAS
  5. Certificate of Compliance from the manufacturer for No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT) 
  6. Operating Manual from the manufacturer
  7. Maintenance guidelines for UAS from the manufacturer
  8. Equipment Type Approval(ETA) from the Wireless Planning & Coordination(WPC) of the Ministry of communication, Government of India
  9. Security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India

Requirements for issuing UAOP

Every Civil RPA operator shall need UAOP except those using following RPAs

  1. Nano RPA
  2. Micro RPA, but it is mandatory to intimidate the local police 24 hours before the operations.
  3. Any RPA owned or administered by NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies. The agencies shall also have to intimidate the local police and concerned ATS units.

Documents required for Issuing UAOP

  1. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) mentioned under Para 12 of the CAR 1.0
  2. Permission of the land/property owner used for the landing and takeoff of the RPAs
  3. Details of the remote pilot along with the Identity Proofs
  4. Required security clearance from the MHA
  5. Security program approved by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
  6. Insurance details

 The UAOP is only valid for 5 years.

Safety Provisions

The Pilot/Operator is accountable for the custody, security, and control of the RPAs. The operator must notify the loss of RPA to the Director of Air Safety and the DGCA(except nano RPA). The operator also has to notify to the DGCA for the cancellation of UIN, in case of any irreparable damage to the RPA. Any registered RPA (having UIN) cannot be sold or dumped without taking permission from DGCA. 

Training Requirements

To ensure the overall safety of people and property, CAR 1.0 specifies certain requirements to operate the RPA.

Basic requirements include:

  1. Remote pilots should have attained 18 years of age
  2. Remote should have passed 10th Std in English

Technical requirements include:

The remote pilot should undergo a ground training program at any Flying Training Organization (FTO), approved by DGCA.

The DGCA has also specified some theory subjects to be studied during the training program. They include basics of:

  1. Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures and flight planning
  2. Radio Telephony techniques
  3. Knowledge of principles of flight and aerodynamics 
  4. Aviation Meteorology

Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap[3]

MCA also released a Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap at Global Aviation Summit 2019, held in January 2019 (Drone Policy 2.0). 

Drone Policy 2.0 focuses on the following aspects:

  1. To expand the operations of CAR to BVLOS(Beyond Visual Line of Sight)
  2. To define and expand segregated airspace to avoid the UAS operations in non-segregated airspace(Airspace for manned aircraft operations)
  3. Principles of airworthiness can be introduced to achieve safety, security, and privacy by improving design parameters.
  4. To develop drone ports to facilitate take-off and landing of UAS.
  5. To promote Make in India Initiative by allowing 100% FDI in commercial drone services.
  6. To introduce advanced pilot training practices to meet the standards set by CAR 2.0.
  7. To improve the freight capabilities of commercial UAS operations.
  8. To enable operators to have professional liability insurance
  9. To allow the use of algorithms, if it does not affect privacy, security, and safety in operations.
  10. To devise a UAS Traffic Management system for managing the traffic generated by UAS. 

National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines[4]

On 18th October 2019, the Ministry of Civil Aviation published the National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines 2019 (NCRD Guidelines).

The main objectives of the NCRD Guidelines were:

  1. To assess the threat of drones to the safety and security of citizens by laying down drone threat regulations.
  2. To explore technologies capable of handling drone threats.
  3. To understand the extent of the drone threats.

The NCRD guidelines aimed at developing various anti rogue drone measures to manage drone threats effectively. It laid out a plan for the deployment of counter rogue drones(C-UAS) for the protection of vital assets.

Voluntary Disclosure Scheme for non- compliant Drones[5]

On January 13, 2020, the MCA released a public notice providing an opportunity of voluntary disclosure of all unregulated drones including models, prototypes, toys, RPAs, automated and radio-controlled drones.

According to this scheme, the data of such non-compliant drones were to be submitted digitally through an online portal named “Digital Sky”.

The Disclosure scheme included updating 2 types of information

  1. Information related to the owner of the drone for issuing Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN).
  2. Information related to the drone for issuing Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN).

The voluntary disclosure scheme was only valid up to 5 PM on January 31, 2020.

Draft UAS Rules 2020[6]

On 2nd June 2020, the Ministry of Civil Aviation released the Draft UAS Rules 2020. These Rules are a next step of the Indian legislature in regulating the Drone operations as it not only specifies the general rules on functioning and controlling the Drone but also specifies rules on the other unregulated issues. As the Drone industry is evolving in India, these regulations shall play a vital role in ensuring better development by providing a foundation for the drone industry.

Part 4 of these Draft UAS Rules state distinct rules on import, manufacture, and maintenance of UAS.

The new draft rules provide for an authorization number for the following 

  1.  UAS Importer
  2.  UAS Manufacturer
  3.  UAS Trader
  4.  UAS Owner
  5.  UAS Operator

This widens the scope of regulations, as now the import, trade, and manufacture of drones get regulated too.

As proposed in the drone policy 2.0, Part VII of the Draft UAS Rules specifies regulations on Drone ports. No Drone port can operate unless it is licensed or has been authorized by the Director-General. Without a license or authorization, a drone port cannot be used for arrival, departure, surface movement, and associated maintenance or commercial activities.

The Draft rules 2020 also provide for penalties for violations of the regulations. Schedule 12 of the draft rules 2020 specifies 2 categories of penalties. Category 1 includes penalties of imprisonment up to 2 years and fine up to 1 lakh rupees. Category 2 includes penalties for imprisonment up to 6 months and fine up to 50 thousand rupees.


[1]CIVIL AVIATION REQUIREMENTS SECTION 3 – AIR TRANSPORT SERIES X PART I (CAR)  https://urbantransportnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Govt.-of-India_Drone-Policy-2018_Guidelines-for-Operation-of-Civil-Remotely-Piloted-Aircraft.pdf

[2] Digital Sky – https://digitalsky.dgca.gov.in/

[3] Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap –https://www.globalaviationsummit.in/documents/DRONE-ECOSYSTEM-POLICY-ROADMAP.pdf

[4] National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines-https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/?q=en/documents/guidelines

[5] Voluntary Disclosure Scheme –(Public Notice) –https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/Drone_Registration_Public_Notice_13012020.pdf

[6] Draft UAS Rules 2020 – https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft_UAS_Rules_2020.pdf


Shivam Kene from ILS Law College, Pune

Shivam’s short term goal is to work to work at a reputed Company/Firm and his long term goal is to become a more knowledgeable and responsible person.

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