The Ministry of Civil Aviation has passed the Drone Rules, 2021 vide gazette notification dated August 25, 2021. The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 stand repealed.


Key highlights of the Rules are:

  • Application: The Rules shall apply to all persons – (a) owning or possessing, or engaged in leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining an unmanned aircraft system in India; (b) all unmanned aircraft systems that are registered in India; and (c) all unmanned aircraft systems that are being operated, in or over India. These rules shall not apply to an unmanned aircraft system belonging to, or used by, the naval, military or air forces of the Union of India. The Rules shall apply to an unmanned aircraft system with all-up-weight of less than 500 kg.
  • Certification: The Director General may issue a type certificate for any particular type of unmanned aircraft system. No security clearance is required before any registration or license issuance for drones. The requisite fees for permissions have also been reduced to nominal levels. Several approvals have been abolished, including the unique authorisation number, the unique prototype identification number, the certificate of conformance, the certificate of maintenance, the operator permits, the authorisation of the R&D organisation, and remote pilot instructor authorisation, among others.
  • Penalties: The Rules prescribe the maximum penalty for violating rules shall be ₹1 lakh.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council: An Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council is to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
  • Import: The import of drones will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). Drone corridors will also be developed for cargo deliveries, the new rules dictate.
  • Airspace Map: Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform. The yellow zone has been reduced from 45km to 12km from the airport perimeter. No permission is required for operating a drone in the green zone and up to 200 feet in the area between 8km-12km from the airport perimeter.
  • Zone Registration: Online registration of all zones shall occur through the Digital Sky platform, with an easy process prescribed for the transfer and deregistration of drones.
  • Drone School: The new drone policy aims to provide for the regularisation of the existing drones in India. All drone training and examination will be carried out by an authorised drone school. The DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools, and provide pilot licenses online.
  • Safety and Compliances: Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off (NPNT)’ real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, and the like shall be notified in the future, the policy notes. A minimum six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.

*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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