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India gets its first drone policy: Here is what experts have to say

Updated : August 29, 2018 06:25 AM IST

The government on Monday announced a policy and guidelines for remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, which will come into effect from December 1 and aim to open up an array of opportunities in the Indian civil aviation sector.

The policy comes after two years of deliberations finally ending the ambiguity and confusion.

The new drone policy allows the recreational, personal or commercial use of drones but with several riders. Drones can only be flown during daylight and within visual line of sight. Apart from this, a unique id will be required for drones which weigh more than 2 kg.

CNBC-TV18 caught up with Utkarsh Singh, co-founder and CEO of DronaMaps, John Livingstone, founder of Johnnette Technologies and Vignesh Santhanam, CMO Quidich President at Drone Federation of India to discuss the new policy norms.

The policy is in alignment with global regulations, said John Livingstone. Our regulations are little inclined towards the security aspect, unlike the other countries.

"The biggest reason why we had such a delay of the release of regulations is probably the alleged drone attack on Venezuelan President a few weeks back and that is a major security threat," Livingstone said.

In this policy we don't have the detachment ability of a drone, he said adding that drone's cannot detach anything, which means you can't drop anything.

On security issues, Livingstone said there were a lot of concerns which actually initiated the home affairs ministry and defence ministry to go deep into this technology.

"Though it is very small it was very important for them to consider a lot of things. DGCA has done a fantastic job of finally giving us the opportunity to fly the drones," he added.

This policy is extremely comprehensive, said Vignesh Santhanam, adding that The DGCA and those who have formulated this policy have actually done a lot of groundwork to make all quarters of the industry happy.

Having said that one must keep in mind that when drone policies were implemented across the globe, even in the United States, France and in other places in the EU, a lot of recreational pilots had a bit of trouble, so their operations were generally hampered, Santhanam added.

If you take a look at the policy, it may not be in order because if you look at how the framework is created, you can actually fly nano drones up to around 50 feet with minimum legal ramifications, he said.

"So, for creatives, for young startups who are still in the concept stage, they can put in pieces together, I don't see much of a hindrance," Santhanam said, adding that it is a fantastic move because now there is a clear-cut roadmap and these guidelines are overall good for the industry.

Santhanam said drone policy 2.0 is also important and there is an embargo on things like Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and Drone Deliveries but the good thing is that these things are mentioned in the policy.

Given that this is drone policy 1.0 it is fairly suggestive that drone policy 2.0 will sort of encompass all these things that have been mentioned in the policy right now, he said.
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