UAV and its regulation – UPSC GS3

Draft Guidelines for civil UAV

Last month, the draft guidelines for civil UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operations were announced by the DGCA (directorate general of civil aviation) clearing the way for a long pending demand by the UAV community in India.
Major points in these guidelines are:
  • requirement of UAOP (unmanned aircraft operator permit) for all UAV operators
  • UIN (unique identification number) for all UAVs.
  • registration of UAVs and their operators is a must,
  • operational limits of micro as well as the mini UAVs range has been restricted to meagre 500m.
Applications of UAV in civilian field:
  • Civil uses include aerial crop survey, aerial photography, search and rescue, inspection of power lines and pipelines, counting wildlife, delivering medical supplies to otherwise inaccessible regions, and detecting detection of illegal hunting, reconnaissance operations, cooperative environment monitoring, border patrol missions, convoy protection, forest fire detection and monitoring, surveillance, coordinating humanitarian aid, plume tracking, land surveying, fire and large-accident investigation, landslide measurement, illegal landfill detection, the construction industry and crowd monitoring.
  • US government agencies use UAVs such as the RQ-9 Reaper to patrol borders, scout property and locate fugitives.
  • Private citizens and media organizations use UAVs for surveillance, recreation, news-gathering, or personal land assessment.
  • Pollution monitoring :  UAVs equipped with air quality monitors provide real time air analysis at various elevations.
  • Disaster relief : Drones can help in disaster relief by providing intelligence across an affected area.
  • Cargo transport : UAVs can transport medicines and medical specimens into and out of inaccessible regions.
Regulatory issues with regard to UAVs:
  • A growing number of drones have been flown dangerously close to commercial aircraft, violating federal rules about their operation. In USA ,as of late last year, 36 states had introduced legislation to protect individuals from drone-related privacy invasion issues.
  • Drones are also creating new questions for the insurance industry, especially when it comes to property damage and liability.
  • The recent Indian draft regulations seem to be overly complicated and restrictive, and may be hard to enforce in practice.
In sum, a lot of paperworkfrom government departments must be accumulated before the applications for operator permits can be made.
  • In effect, given the number of “sensitive installations”, and the discretionary permissions, very little airspace may be available.
  • Already, multiple types of drones are easily available, with the cheapest ones costing less than Rs 1,500 a piece.
  • If permissions are too tedious or difficult to get, there will be a temptation to cut corners and just ignore regulations.Drones have already proliferated and, given sensible regulations, the market could explode
What needs to be done?
  • There should be a specific time limit for the grant of numbers and permits .
  • The DGCA may charge a reasonable fee for the service but calling applicants to the office should be occasional until and unless there are doubts about the integrity of the applicant.
  • The DGCA regulations must provide for a level playing field for the private sector so that innovation, growth and more importantly adopting of UAV technologies by end users can become commonplace.
  • The DGCA must initiate multi stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAV use in line with the PM’s policy of ease of doing business.



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