NEW DELHI: Drone startups — including Quidich Innovation Labs, Aarav Unmanned Systems, Asteria Aerospace and Indrones, among others — have come under body called Drone Federation of India, together to suggest changes to the government’s proposed draft regulations for drone companies in the country.
The members of the Federation, a first of its kind in India, are a mix of drone manufacturers, service providers and industry experts. “Our objective is industry advocacy, and to work alongside key government bodies like DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to influence policy decision concerning drones in India,” said Vignesh Santhanam, President, Drone Federation of India and Head of Marketing at Quidich, which manufacturers drones for surveillance and security purposes.
After the draft on Drone regulations was out, it had received 100 comments which were in the process of being incorporated in the drone regulations.
The top three concerns of drone companies who are part of the association include :
- The proposed weight restriction of 2kgs and height restriction of 200 feet for drones used for various applications. As per the proposed set of regulations, there are a number of operational formalities to be fulfilled for using drones in excess of these criteria. A key demand is to raise the bar on weight to at least 4 kgs and height restriction to at least 400 feet.
- Drones should be allowed for modern applications, however, for a number of commercial applications, it is not possible to fly drones below 200 feet. Almost in all other countries, which have framed regulations for drones, drones are allowed to fly upto 400 feet for commercial applications. There are several safety concerns with drones under 200 feet,” said Yeshwanth Reddy, cofounder of Aarav Unmanned Vehicles (AUS)
- Drone startups are seeking clarity on how to go about registration of drones and making the entire process of seeking permission for flying drones for certain projects much faster. “They have mentioned that we need to take ATC (Air Traffic Control) approval, however, there is no clarity on how to go about the registration of drones since every drone needs to have a Unique Identification Number. Also, the government is yet to mention how to go procure tagging since every drone in operation has to go procure tagging since every drone in operation has to be tagged,” said Karthik R, chief technology officer at Chennai-based DeTect Technologies.Among other key demands, drone companies have demanded for faster approvals and allocation of more testing sites to foster indigenous drone manufacturing and R&D.
Companies have to go through a long process seeking approvals for every project, stipulating height for the flight of drones, flight path and time for which they will be flying.
“We can’t wait for a month or two to get permission for every single project since the lead time for these projects is too long. The whole idea of using drones is to cut down the time on certain operations and make the process as seamless as possible. The long time to approvals defeats the purpose,” said Gaurav Mehta COO at Quidich Innovation Labs