NASSCOM Submits its Feedback on the Draft UAS Rules, 2020
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
NASSCOM recently submitted its feedback to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 (draft UAS Rules).
The main recommendations made by NASSCOM are as follows:
- Reassess No Permission No Take-off (NPNT) requirement– The DGCA should review the NPNT compliance requirement for drones, as the existing NPNT requirement is problematic for the following reasons:
(I) The benefits of the NPNT requirement are not clear. The current requirement creates a situation wherein a drone which is not NPNT-compliant will likely be used in rogue operations (as it is relatively difficult for the government to track non-NPNT compliant drones). On the other hand, a drone which is NPNT-compliant will continue to face the costs of compliance. Any security concerns which the government has with respect to drones should instead be met by employing radar in restricted airspaces and the use of counter-drone technology.
(II) NPNT requirements are particularly cumbersome for persons who want to fly a drone for hobby.
(III) The NPNT requirement under the existing Requirements for Operation of Civil RPAS (RoCR) has not been operationalised till now on the Digital Sky platform. This has resulted in a situation wherein the drones operating in India (some of which have been deployed by law enforcement agencies) are non-NPNT compliant.
2. Provide specific exemptions for drones which are used in racing competitions or for recreational purposes– The compliance requirements under the draft UAS Rules when applied to certain activities are cumbersome. There is a need to differentiate between drones used for commercial purposes as opposed to recreating flying and drone racing. Under draft UAS Rule 57 (General power to exempt), the DGCA should consider providing exceptions in cases where drones are used in racing competitions or for recreation (hobby). The proposed exceptions include exemption from NPNT compliance and minimum age requirements. This is important to create an ecosystem for drone hobbyists and to give a fillip to drone racing as a sport in the country.
3. Make certain equipment requirements applicable to nano drones– Nano drones enjoy certain relaxations under the draft UAS Rules such as exemptions from Qualified Remote Pilot and UAS Operator Permit. To ensure that nano drones do not pose any security risks, we have recommended that equipment requirements such as barometric sensor, real time tracking via the remote pilot station and remote location/tracking may be made applicable to nano drones.
4. Clarify that the draft UAS Rules apply only to Civil UAS– Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which are used for defence purposes do not fall under the purview of the DGCA. Therefore, the draft UAS Rules should expressly state that the rules apply only to Civil RPAS.
5. Permit carriage of payload for experimental and research purposes, and a negative-list approach be followed– Under the draft UAS Rules, carriage of payload is prohibited unless specifically approved by the DGCA. We recommend that a negative list approach should be followed instead, and carriage of payload should be permitted unless specifically prohibited by the DGCA. Further, the draft UAS Rules should allow carriage of payload for experimental and research purposes; this will drive development of innovation solutions by providing greater flexibility to drone manufacturers/users.
6. Do not subject trading in individual components to authorisation requirements– Under draft UAS Rule 20, only an ‘Authorised UAS Trader’ shall engage in buying or selling or leasing of a UAS or a part or a component thereof in India. This rule does not take into account that components which are used in a UAS may not be limited to UAS alone and the same components may be used in non-UAS applications as well. Therefore, requiring the sale of individual components to be through Authorised UAS Trader only can limit the number of sellers for UAS components available in the market.
7. Simplify the draft UAS Rules for young drone users– In line with our recommendation that the DGCA should create an ecosystem for use of drones for recreational purposes and drone racing, we recommend that the DGCA should take measures to make the draft UAS Rules more accessible for young drone users. For instance, the DGCA could issue easy to understand manuals aimed at simplifying the understanding of drone regulations in India. This will also be helpful for those who use RPAS for experimental, research and educational purposes (I.e. model RPAS users).
8. Create awareness and educate users– What can really make a difference in preventing drone mishaps is to ensure that users are aware of the existing drone regulations. The DGCA may consider developing an app to provide information inter alia on different aspects related to flying a drone, including awareness of controlled airspaces.
The full submission is posted below. Our previous blog on the draft UAS Rules is available here. If you have any questions, please contact komal[at]nasscom[dot]in or dagarwal[at]nasscom[dot]in.