As India gets set to notify a more simplified set of Drone Rules that would simplify procedures and reduce compliance burden on stakeholders later this week, the government, the industry – specially the start-ups and entrepreneurs – are all seeing this as a huge opportunity for economic growth and employment generation in India. While the government and industry are already enthusiastic about the new Drone Rules 2021, describing them as futuristic and positive, India’s urban populace – particularly its youngsters – are ecstatic at the idea of receiving their favourite Amazon, Myntra, Swiggy, and Zomato deliveries by drones.
Until May last year, more than 13 consortia had already been granted permission to conduct commercial drone trials and share their findings with the government. The government was concerned about safety issues, particularly those relating to flying altitude, distance from airports and other important places, and so on. However, if safety concerns are addressed and procedural laws are liberalized through new Drone Policy 2021, the industry will be able to overcome other logistical challenges linked to delivering food, fashion, and groceries by drones, and we can expect drone deliveries to begin sooner than imagined.
We know the industry was already buzzing with drone-related inventions and technology; it was only in terms of policy and other regulatory affairs that we saw the government treading carefully. Let us accept that the government has now shown courage by listening to the pulse of the market and the demand of the hour at a time when social distancing is the new norm and drones could prove to be an effective mechanism for delivering medicines, groceries, and other essential commodities in today’s uncertain times of national and territorial lockdowns.
Prime Minister Modi has said that the new Drone Rules usher in a landmark moment for this sector in India. He also said that the new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said:
“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.” – PM Modi
“The new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open new possibilities for innovation & business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub.”- PM Modi
Many reports have already indicated that drone food delivery and other essential services delivery are about to explode in the UAE, the US, Japan, Singapore, and Australia and the Indian government has now decided to replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 with the new Drone Rules, 2021. If the current pace of policy reforms from the Aviation Ministry and other regulatory bodies continues, we may soon see our skies filled with delivery drones. With global giants like Amazon already experimenting with drone deliveries and indigenous unicorns like Zomato planning to launch drone-based food delivery in India, there are “immense opportunities” knocking at the doorsteps of start-ups like Dunzo. It is probably times for the sky to be filled with delivery drones.
Of course, this all will take some more time but eventually my hot Pizza and your Kajal will be delivered by drones only.
10 Points of New Drone Rules 2021 Making India Upbeat
The number of forms required to manufacture, import, test, certify, and operate drones has been cut from 25 to 5. This was done with the goal of making it easier to do business as part of the government’s reform program.
Approvals like unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, and certificate of conformance are abolished so that entrepreneurs can focus on developing innovation and technology, not procedural documentation, and bureaucracy.
Digital Sky – a single-window system for all approvals. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated.
Government will soon publish an interactive airspace map, segregating India into green, yellow, and red zones within 30 days of notification of the new rules. No permission required for drones in green zones up to vertical height of 400 feet.
Fee for a remote pilot license reduced from Rs 3,000 (for large drones) to Rs 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years. The yellow zone is now reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport.
No remote pilot license required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones. Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt from type certification.
Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
Import of drones will be regulated by DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade).
Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
Standard operating procedures (SOP) will be prescribed by DGCA on the Digital Sky platform for self-monitoring by users.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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