1. Classifying drones
The new rules classify drones based on their maximum weight, including the payload.
- Nano: 250 grams or less
- Micro: More than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg
- Small: More than 2 kg and and less than or equal to 25 kg
- Medium: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg
- Large: Greater than 150 kg
2. Certifying drones
All drones operated in India must have a ‘certificate of airworthiness’—or be exempted from the requirement.
These certificates will be issued by the Quality Council of India (QCI) to manufacturers and importers, who must file applications on the Digital Sky platform.
The central government will specify the standards for getting an airworthiness certificate on the recommendations of QCI.
Exemptions: The following type of drones do not need a certificate of airworthiness:
- Prototype drones used for research and development
- Prototype drones provided for obtaining the certificate
- Nano drones (250 grams or less)
How to apply: A manufacturer or importer seeking a certificate of airworthiness must provide the following:
- Name, contact details and GSTIN
- Details and documents of the drone
- Proof of fee payment
- A prototype of the drone
Mandatory safety features: All drones must have the following safety features.
- ‘No permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT) hardware and firmware
- Real-time tracking beacon that communicates the drone’s location
- Altitude, speed and unique identification number
- Geofencing capability
Regulating imports: The Directorate General of Foreign Trade will regulate the import of drones and drone components. QCI will certify these drones based on approvals by international aviation regulators.
3. Registering drones
Unique identification number: All drones operated in India must have a unique identification number or be exempted from the requirement.
This number can be generated by filling in Form D-2 on Digital Sky.
It will be linked to the serial number provided by the manufacturer and the serial numbers of its flight control module and ground control station.
Registering existing drones: Any person who owns a drone made in India or imported into India on or before December 31, 2021 must apply for a unique identification number on Digital Sky. Such drones must have a valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) issued by Digital Sky on or before December 31.
Transferring drones: A drone can be transferred from one person to another by filling in Form D-3 on Digital Sky.
Deregistering drones: Anyone whose drone is lost or permanently damaged must apply to deregister it using Form D-3.
4. Operating drones
Airspace map: Within 30 days of these roles being notified, the government will publish an airspace map on Digital Sky that segregates India’s airspace of India into red, yellow and green zones.
Operating a drone in a red zone or yellow zone requires prior permission.
These maps will be interactive, so before operating a drone, pilots must check Digital Sky for any notification or restriction on drone operations in their area.
Temporary red zone: A state, Union Territory or law enforcement agency can turn a particular area into a temporary red zone “if there is an urgent need to temporarily prohibit drone flights” in that area.
Caveats: This classification must be renewed every 48 hours.
- Only officers with the rank of a superintendent of police (or its equivalent) or higher can establish a temporary red zone.
- The officer must ensure that the size of the temporary red zone is “reasonable and not excessive”.
Digital Sky will “endeavour to inform” holders of unique identification numbers within 5 km of the edge of a temporary red zone, but pilots will still be responsible for checking zonal restrictions before operating a drone.
5. Remote pilot licence
All drone operators must have a remote pilot licence and be listed on Digital Sky. No licence is required to operate a nano drone, or a micro drone for non-commercial purposes.
Unless suspended or cancelled, this licence will be valid for 10 years. It may be renewed by any authorised remote pilot training organisation for up to 10 years, provided the holder undergoes refresher courses.
Eligibility: To apply for a remote pilot licence you must:
- be 18 to 65 years old
- have passed Std X or its equivalent from a recognised board
- have completed the training prescribed by the Director General
6. Research and development
The following do not require a certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence to operate drones for research and development in green zones:
- Research and development entities and educational institutions under or recognised by the central government, state governments or union territory administrations
- Startups recognised by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
- Any drone manufacturer with a GSTIN
7. Managing drone traffic
The central government will publish a framework for the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) System on Digital Sky within 60 days of notifying these rules. It will, among other things, specify the roles, powers and responsibilities of state governments and Union Territories.
The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 will apply to third-party insurance of drones and compensation for death, injury or property damage caused by drones. Nano drones don’t need third-party insurance.
9. Promoting drones
The central government may promote the use of drones by creating a Drone Promotion Council, which will facilitate:
- the development of a business-friendly regulatory regime, including automated permissions
- the establishment of incubators and other facilities to develop drone technologies
- the involvement of industry experts and academic institutions in policy advice
- the organising of competitive events involving drones and counter-drones
The central government may evaluate these rules on the basis of their economic impact and document this in a six-monthly report.
10. Other points to note
The central government will be exempt: “Nothing in these rules shall limit or otherwise affect the power of the Central Government with regard to any order issued in the interest of public safety or for safe operation of all manned or unmanned aircraft,” the rules state.
It will also have the power to exempt any person or class of people from all or some portion of these rules.
Prosecution for offences: Anyone who fails to comply with these rules can be charged under Aircraft Act, 1934. Violations will be compoundable as per Section 12A of that law.
Penalties: The authorities can fine violators up to Rs 1 lakh and cancel their licence—or any other approval granted under these rules—after giving them a chance to be heard.
Let’s move on to other big developments of the week.
OTHER BIG STORIES BY OUR REPORTERS
Pharmeasy founder Siddharth Shah
PharmEasy is gearing up to file draft papers by October for an initial public offering (IPO) later in the fiscal year, sources told us yesterday. It will look to raise anywhere between $800 million and $1 billion with a significant jump in valuation, they said. API Holdings, which runs PharmEasy, was valued at $4.2 billion in June.
A wave of young investors from non-metro cities are increasingly trading in stocks and buying cryptocurrency online, industry executives told ET, a development that coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent national lockdown last year.
According to state-wise user registration data from BSE:
- User signups in Uttar Pradesh have increased by almost 60% as of August 23 compared to the previous year.
- It has grown by 70% in Odisha, 191% in Assam, 85% in Bihar and 80% in Madhya Pradesh in the same period.
Overall, there has been a 45% increase in registered investors to more than 70 million, compared to the previous year.
Reliance Retail is ready with ecommerce fireworks
Reliance Retail has been aggressive in placing festive season orders to drive most of its business online, at a time when rivals Amazon India and
According to senior executives of leading brands, the order volume from Reliance Retail has increased between 70% and 400% compared to the festive season last year as compared to 40-70% placed by the sellers in Amazon and Flipkart.
Two senior executives of
Nikhil K. Chakrapani and Rajendra Kamath have joined as additional directors, effective July 19. Goel, who was also the chief executive officer of the company, resigned the same day. Kalaari Capital’s Vani Kola, Mayfield Ventures MD Nikhil Khattau Nirvan and Unilever Ventures partner Pawan Chaturvedi have also exited the board.
In fresh recommendations to the government, cryptocurrency players have suggested the finance ministry consider Gujarat’s International Financial Services Centres Authority as a likely regulator for all crypto transactions, two people aware of the development said.
The idea is that under IFSCA, cryptocurrency exchanges could be treated as commodity players and subject to local KYC compliance.
Paytm recently granted new employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) to 166 former and current employees, which were then converted into shares of the company, latest regulatory filings with the Registrar of Companies showed. Cumulatively, over a million Esops worth Rs 9 each were granted to mostly senior staff members.
The development comes ahead of the Noida-based company’s IPO slated for November.
ETtech DEALS DIGEST■ Zetwerk Manufacturing has raised $150 million at a valuation of $1.33 billion, making the contract manufacturer the 25th Indian startup to achieve unicorn status this year. The round was led by D1 Capital Partners. The capital will be used for building new technology, global expansion and strengthening its market leadership, Zetwerk CEO Amrit Acharya said.
■ Delhivery has acquired Bengaluru-based smaller peer Spoton Logistics to strengthen its business-to-business (B2B) vertical ahead of a planned initial public offering. The company is likely to file by October the draft papers for a $1-billion IPO, Bloomberg reported.
■ Digital book-keeping app Khatabook has raised $100 million in a Series C funding round led by Silicon Valley-based early-stage fund Tribe Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures. The fundraising values Khatabook at $600 million.
■ Investment firm A91 Partners has closed its second fund, notching up a corpus of around $525 million amid heightened deal activity in India. Fund-II is nearly 50% larger compared to its maiden one, keeping with the momentum risk investors have garnered on the continued bull run in the private and public markets.
■ Prime Venture Partners has raised $75 million towards the first close of its $100-million fourth fund, amid unprecedented deal activity in the Indian startup ecosystem. The Bengaluru-based early-stage venture capital firm, which typically invests $500,000 to $1 million in a startup, might increase the ticket size with the fourth fund.
That’s about it from us this week. Stay safe and get that jab. 💉