“Time is running out for operators to register their drones in India”

Drone operators in India have until 31 January 2020 to register their drones.

Drone Help Line has received multiple requests from industry seeking clarity on the registration process – its advantages and disadvantages. Most drone operators across India are amateur photographers and videographers and they have had serious concerns about the process. After the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) drone registration announcement there were many rumours that MOCA would start seizing drones and take legal action against operators post the registration deadline, even though there might be no concrete evidence of ownership.

MOCA addressed these rumours with a statement that no purchase evidence is required to register drones in the Digital Sky portal by 31 January.  Currently, 1,000 plus drone registrations have taken place.

Drone Help Line has requested MOCA to extend the drone registration deadline by a month to make this initiative more effective.  We have proposed physical drone registration desks in every city and we are seeking collaboration across India with multiple start-ups, institutions and companies to take part in this initiative and create a pan-India support system.

The drone industry in India is growing at a fast rate; there are at least 50 tenders currently published with requirements for aerial inspection, services and sales amounting to around USD5 million.

The Government is currently focusing on operations delivered by non-Chinese drones and is supporting the Make-in-India initiative with grants and programmes for drone platform and system developers. The Indian Institute of Technologies is running multiple incubation programmes and funding support. There are now several alliances between government, industry and academia to promote the sector by developing collaborative efforts.

According to a recent PwC India report:

“The drone space in India is catching up with that in other nations and gaining considerable momentum. According to 6Wresearch, the Indian UAV market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 18% during 2017–23 in terms of revenue. Although these numbers will continue to be led by the long range UAV segment, medium and mini-UAVs are also poised to register healthy growth. Data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicates that with 22.5% of the world’s UAV imports, India tops the list of drone-importing nations. Again, these are numbers primarily for military purposes, and commercial drones are showing healthy growth as well. According to study conducted by BIS Research, it is predicted that the market for commercial end-use of drones might supersede the military market by 2021, cumulatively hitting approximately USD 900 million.”[1]

The Government welcomes new ideas and adoption of new technology; there have been provisional approval grants to carry out drone based aerial services and we acknowledge the remarkable effort taken by Joint Secretary Shri Amber Dubey to take things to the next level. But the process of authorising flights is rigid – even for services supplied directly to the government – and has to move through multiple departments to attain permission to conduct survey work.

Arab Khan is Chief Executive Officer of www.uavsystems.org, a core member of the non-profit Drone Help Line community (https://www.linkedin.com/company/drone-helpline/) set up to spread safety awareness about drone operations across India.

[1] https://www.pwc.in/consulting/financial-services/fintech/fintech-insights/data-on-wings-a-close-look-at-drones-in-india.html

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