DGCA India Drone rules: NPNT

On my last post I explained details of drone policy published on 27th Aug 2018, the policy was in draft for last 3 years. Now they published it but this is still incomplete. Here i am listing some issues which are still not clear.

1.NPNT Compliance

No Permission No Takeoff is a new concept in all over the world for controlling UAV usage and traffic. This is a Part of Digital Sky Platform which is yet to be released by DGCA India. User(pilot) Have to register himself(with UAOP) and the drone(with UIN) and then install a mobile App to get permission for each flight just before flying.

How NPNT works ?

  • User installs the Digital Sky App provided by DGCA.
  • Submit pilot registration number, indirectly all details of pilot.
  • Submit device UIN number, it means all details of the UAV/drone.
  • Before Flying you request for permission.
  • UIN, UAOP and the current location(latitude, longitude) transmitted to server
  • Server checks whether its green zone, yellow zone or red zone
  • Checks for other exceptional entries for no permission
  • and the UIN, UAOP validity
  • if everything is OK then permission sent the UAV directly through the NPNT device and an acknowledgement message to the user app.

But still the user have to report police for each flight which seems weird.

Incomplete How ?

  • When will be the digital sky Platform will be launched ?
  • What will be the API to integrate with drones ?
  • What will be procedure for 2way communication with ATS.(necessary for all drones except nano)

Now none of drone manufacturer know about the API, so it will take time atleast one month after DGCA releases the Digital sky platform API and integration details.

2. No rule for Spraying Drones

From market survey we learned that Indians are more interested in spraying drones compared to the imaging drones. But its clearly mentioned on the documents published by DGCA that spraying is not allowed till now. Indians are not so much aware of the other uses of drone in agriculture except spraying. NDVI scanning or classifier based data extraction from farm fields need good skill in computing.

3. SSR transponder or ADS-B Out

These devices will make the airspace safe but it will increase the cost by 2000 dollars(INR 140000/-) or more. Usually these devices are used in manned air vehicles like helicopter or planes. ADS-B Out system works like a beacon broadcasting its own position heading and other data in a open band. it is bulky for manned vehicles and costly too. uAvionix introduced a cheaper solution for drones. Here is a screenshot from google search.

While it is purely unnecessary for drones flying at 400 ft height if he is 10 km away from an airport, DGCA made this compulsory for all except nano class. No airplane is expected at 400ft in a fly safe zone.

Drone 1.0 from DGCA

Flying drones(UAS) in controlled or uncontrolled Airspace is prohibited for public in India and it will be same till 1st Dec 2018.  DGCA, the authority responsible for controlling air traffic in Indian airspace drafted a set of rule in 2016 and again in 2017 modified and published as a draft only.  On 27th August 2018 they published the first set of rules for controlling drones  allowing public to fly drones with permission.They have published 3 document related to this. These rule will be effective from 1st December 2018. Here i am listing the major points.

  • No rule for Hobby, DIY, Self-made drones seems not allowed. Getting clearance for DIY or non branded drone will be complex or near to impossible.
  • Currently none of the drones available in market compliant with the NPNT , the OEM need to integrate these things. NPNT is necessary for all drones which need UIN. Nano drones are exempted from UIN but still with conditions.
  • If you flying Inside a building still you need permission
  • For agriculture scanning/imaging is OK but spraying is not allowed till now.
  • Delivery is not allowed, so don’t expect amazon will send their drones to you.
  • Flying a nano drone in your friends marriage is not easy. You can fly it in your garden without any licences but not in a marriage.
  • Pilot licenses are valid for 5 years costs 25000/- and all other papers
  • UIN registraion is like RC not transferable costs
  • RPA operated by NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies are all free they can do whatever they want without or with permit.
  • NPNT compliant drone will not fly until it gets permission via digital sky platform app. Once flying request accepted it will be transmitted to drone via GSM will enabled for the requested flight.

Drone Classification

  1. Nano Drone : Less than equal to 250 gram
  2. Micro Drone : Greater than 250 gram less than or equal to 2 kg
  3. Small Drone : Greater than 2 K.G. less than or equal to 25 kg
  4. Medium Drone : Greater than 25 KG less than or equal to 150 kg
  5. Large Drone : Greater than 150 kg

UIN

UIN(Unique Identification Number) is equivalent to vehicle number in normal vehicles. Its needed for all drone above Nano. But in some case you need UIN for Nano too. If you are flying nano drone in a friends party then you need UIN. The UIN need to engraved on the vehicle or attached to vehicle and should be clearly visible. UIN fee is INR1000/-

UAOP

Unmanned Aircraft Operator permit is needed for flying all drones except nano and micro drones in uncontrolled airspace(or inside a building) with a limit of 50 feet and 200 feet respectively.  Getting UAOP for first time costs INR 25000/- valid for 5 years and renewal costs INR 10000/-

Flying drone upto 400 ft. AGL and visual line of sight are allowed. However, you need to have the following equipment installed on your drones:

  • GNSS (GPS) for horizontal and vertical position fixing
  • Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return Home (RH) option
  • Flashing anti-collision strobe lights
  • RFID and GSM SIM Card/ NPNT compliant for APP based real time tracking
  • Fire resistant identification plate inscribed with UIN
  • Flight Controller with flight data logging capacity.
  • SSR transponder (Mode ‘C’ or ‘S’) or ADS-B OUT equipment h) Barometric equipment with capability for remote sub-scale setting i) Geo-fencing capability j) Detect and Avoid capability (compulsory for indian manufacturers)

 

Here they have mentioned the upper limit but didn’t mentioned limit at which one can fly without these equipments. NPNT device is neceassary as per their policy that is clear but the SSR transponder will be costly. They have specified manufacturers are permitted only if they mount all of these devices.

 

The DGCA Documents

  1. RPAS FAQ
  2. Do’s and Don’ts
  3. REquirements for manufacturer pilot and done