Top 10 features of India’s drone airspace maps released today to support automated drone operations

India’s new airspace map – hosted on the Digital Sky Platform launched by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 24 September 2021 – is designed to support ‘super-normal growth in the upcoming drone sector’ according to a government press release.

The government says as a result of the new rules, the drone production linked incentive (PLI) scheme and the freely accessible drone airspace maps, the drones and drone components manufacturing industry may see an investment of over INR 5,000 crore over the next three years.  The annual sales turnover of the drone manufacturing industry may grow from INR 60 crore in 2020-21 to over INR 900 crore in FY 2023-24.  The drone manufacturing industry is expected to generate over 10,000 direct jobs over the next three years.

The drone services industry (operations, mapping, surveillance, agri-spraying, logistics, data analytics, software development etc.) will grow to an even larger scale.  It is expected to grow to over INR 30,000 crore in next three years. The drone services industry is expected to generate over five lakh jobs in three years.


  1. The drone airspace map is an interactive map of India that demarcates the yellow and red zones across the country.
  2. Green zone is the airspace upto 400 feet that has not been designated as a red or yellow zone; and upto 200 feet above the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport.
  3. In green zones, no permission whatsoever is required for operating drones with an all-up weight upto500 kg.
  4. Yellow zone is the airspace above 400 feet in a designated green zone; above 200 feet in the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport and above ground in the area located between 5-8 km from the perimeter of an operational airport.
  5. Drone operations in yellow zone require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority – AAI, IAF, Navy, HAL etc. as the case may be.
  6. Yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km earlier to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  7. Red zone is the ‘no-drone zone’ within which drones can be operated only after a permission from the Central Government.
  8. The airspace map may be modified by authorised entities from time to time.
  9. Anyone planning to operate a drone should mandatorily check the latest airspace map for any changes in zone boundaries.
  10. The drone airspace map is freely available on the digital sky platform to all without any login requirements.


  1. Based on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.
  2. Several permissions and approvals abolished.  Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5.  Types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.
  3. Digital sky platform being developed as a user-friendly online single-window system.
  4. Interactive drone airspace map with red and yellow zones to be released by 24 September 2021.
  5. No permission required for operating drones in green zones.
  6. Yellow zone, where ATC permission is required, has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  7. No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and drones.
  8. No security clearance required before issuance of any registration or licence.
  9. Coverage of drones under drone rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg.  This will cover drone taxis also.
  10. No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.
  11. No requirement of import clearance from DGCA.
  12. Remote pilot licence to be issued by DGCA within 15 days of pilot receiving the remote pilot certificate from an authorised drone school.
  13. Maximum penalty for violations reduced to INR 1 lakh. Previously several lakhs.
  14. Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
  15. Drone promotion council to be set up by government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders.

India’s airspace map is available on DGCA’s digital sky platform:

(Image: Shutterstock) 

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