Draft national policy seeks views on flying drones alongside manned aircraft

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 01, 2020

To carve out a national policy on flying drones, the governement has invited public comments from stakeholders on this. The policy proposal was aimed to use drones to fly alongside manned aircraft (scheduled and non scheduled and other aircraft flying in the sky).

The draft National Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management policy paper has sought comments from various stakeholders.

The Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system plans to provide flight planning capabilities, facilitate flight authorisation, provide real-time situational awareness, provide weather and terrain data apart from managing the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) traffic.

The need for UTM Systems is now being felt as drones will soon need to fly alongside manned aircraft so there is a need to maintain high levels of aviation safety in such scenarios, apart from which integrating drones in current Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems may be complex and expensive.

This draft document comes in the backdrop of several instances globally of drones coming in the way of aircraft taking off or landing at busy airports affecting their operations.

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 metres 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.


Published on December 01, 2020

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