Govt seeks comments on proposed policy on regulating drone flights

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 01, 2020 Published on December 01, 2020

Authorities have invited public comments for a national policy on movement of commercial aircraft and drones.

The National Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management policy discussion draft paper says, among the various features the new guidelines are looking at is avoiding drone flights posing a hazard to commercial aircraft; establishment of one centre — the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management Service Provider — which aggregates information such as flight intents, real-time telemetry and weather data and communicates it to relevant stakeholders as required.

The primary objective of this policy document is to define how various Unmanned Aircraft (UA) operational scenarios will be enabled in the low-level airspace using the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management Ecosystem and the Regulatory System referred to as the DigitalSky Platform.

The document broadly defines the integration of the UTM Ecosystem with existing ATM systems through the DigitalSky Platform to enable more Operational Scenarios and further enhance the safety of Manned and Unmanned Aviation.

Hazard at airports

It comes in the backdrop of several instances globally of drones coming in the way of aircraft taking off or landing at busy airports.

In January last year, Heathrow airport in London, had to shut its operations for an hour because of a drone sighting. BBC cited a Heathrow spokeswoman as saying that this was done a “precautionary measure” to “prevent any threat to operational safety.”

BBC added that a month earlier there was another disruption at Gatwick Airport which saw thousands of people stranded when drones were sighted.

Similarly, in 2016, the world’s busiest airport at Dubai was shut down for about 30 minutes after a drone was sighted.

A tweet by Dubai airport reminded all Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operators that activities were not permitted within 5 km of any airport or landing area.

In India, drones are already being used by various institutions including by the Police which used drones to ensure that lockdown rules were implemented during the Covid pandemic.

In November, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation granted conditional exemption to the International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad for the deployment of drones for agricultural research activities.

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Published on December 01, 2020
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