The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday released the Draft Drone Rules, 2021, aimed at regulating the usage of unmanned aerial vehicles in the country.

The rules, once notified, will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021, which came into force on March 12. The ministry has sought the response of citizens on the draft by August 5.

The draft rules came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of ministers to discuss the formulation of a national policy on drones, Hindustan Times reported.

On June 27, the Jammu and Kashmir Police had said that drones may have been used to drop explosive material that caused two low-intensity blasts at the Jammu Air Force Station.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation said that the proposed new rules on drones were framed “on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring”. The draft rules have eliminated several authorisations, including unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance and import clearance.

The rules aim to create a “digital sky platform” as a business-friendly single-window online system for procuring various approvals. The ministry has said that there will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.

The platform will also display a map showing green, yellow and red zones, based on the level of restrictions in place. The rules stipulate that no flight permission would be required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between eight and 12 km from the airport perimeter. The green zones do not need an Air Traffic Control service.

No pilot licence will be needed for micro drones that are for non-commercial use, nano drones and for research and development organisations.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia welcomed the rules, saying that they would provide a major boost to the drone industry.

“Drones are bringing the next big tech revolution around the globe with reduced costs, resources and time taken for operations. It is upon us to ride on the new wave and facilitate its uptake, especially among our startups,” Scindia said.

History of drone regulations

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had imposed a blanket ban on drones in 2014. The ban was lifted from December 2018.

The regulator had then issued the Civil Aviation Requirements to regulate the use of drones. These guidelines stipulated that a unique identification number would be required for all drones except the ones in the nano category.

Globally, unmanned aerial vehicles are used for a variety of purposes, including drone photography, delivering of small products and even the monitoring of forests.