The Government of India notified new liberalized Drone Rules 2021 on August 26, 2021 ushering the nascent Indian drone ecosystem in an exponential growth capsule. The new rules are expected to fast track plans of drone companies with the government having done away with a lot of red tape that essentially delayed project launches.
According to global market intelligence and advisory firm BIS Research, the global drone market, which is currently dominated by US, China and Israel, will touch $28.47 billion in 2021 and India will comprise about 4.25 per cent of that.
The new liberalized Drone Rules will boost the core sectors of the drone economy pitting India to become a global hub for drones by 2030.
According to a PwC report, there are six segments across which Indian companies are exploring drone-based solutions.
Aviation ministry passes Drone Rules
The Civil Aviation ministry has passed the new Drone Rules 2021, which will replace the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rules 2021, the government said in a Gazette notification. The new rules were lauded by stakeholders for simplifying procedures and reducing the compliance burden to operate a drone in India.
The new rules were passed within a week of the government’s nod of providing conditional permission to 10 organizations, including Mahindra and Mahindra, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Bayer Crop Science, to use drones for various purposes for one year.
“We’re going to ensure drone application in transportation, logistic, defense, mining, infrastructure sectors, and more. It will provide more jobs. We aim to make India a global drone hub by 2030,” said Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.
He added that currently, there are around 200 startups that are part of the drone ecosystem in India and that there is a possibility that something similar to drone taxis is launched in India under the new drone policy.
Drone Rules, 2021 to ensure ease of using drones in India
Under the Drone Rules 2021, the government has reduced the fee to operate a drone to nominal levels and de-linked from the drone’s size, the government said in a statement on August 25.
Furthermore, the coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.
The government has also reduced the number of forms required to operate a drone in India from 25 to 5 and also said that no security clearance would be needed before any registration or license issuance of a drone.
According to the Drone Rules 2021, operating drones without unique identification numbers will not be allowed unless exempted. Drone operators will have to generate a unique identification number of drones by providing requisite details on the digital sky platform.
The government said that the rules had abolished various approvals, including certificate of conformance, maintenance certificate, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorization of R&D organization, and student remote pilot license.
The government said that no flight permission would be required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
The rules have also prescribed easier processes for the transfer and deregistration of drones.
No pilot license will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), Nano drones, and R&D (research and development) organizations.
Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries. According to the rules, a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a drone-friendly regulatory regime in the country.
The rules also stated that there would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
The Indian Drone Economy
According to 6Wresearch, the Indian UAV market is projected to record $421 Million by 2021. The introduction of regulation by DGCA will promote its penetration in the civil application sector, retail and hospitality application sectors.
Amongst all applications, military application accounts for most of the revenue share in India’s UAV market. Over the last three years, law enforcement applications are witnessing the higher deployment of mini-UAVs in Tier-I cities due to the increasing crime rate.
Addressable market size for drone powered solutions
India is said to be the fastest-growing drone market in the world. It is predicted to mushroom to $885 million by 2021, according to a January 2020 PwC report. It is expected to reach $1,810 million by FY 2026, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.61 percent.