India First Drone Policy Takes Flight: The Main Things To Do Before You Can Fly One


The Ministry of Civil Aviation has put out India’s new guidelines for remotely piloted aircraft, also known as drones. The policy, which was announced in August this year, comes into effect from 1 December

Now, starting today, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has opened the registration process for users who want to operate drones. Users will be required to make one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners on the platform, which will also allow for the online filing of a drone’s specific flight path and use.

Per the new Drone Policy, Nano drones that weigh less than 250 grams will not need to be registered. So if you have a tiny drone you can safely start flying it starting today. However, micro drones, which weigh more than 250 grams up to 2 kg, small drones, that weigh between 2 and 25 kg, and the medium drones, which can weigh up to 150 kg, and the large drones, that are over 150 kg heavy, all need to be registered before flight.

Further, all operators flying larger than Micro drones, which fly over 200 feet, will also require to get a permit. It’s somewhat like a driver’s license.

A drone is used to survey high-voltage power lines in Wilnsdorf, Germany. Image: Reuters

For other instructions for filing all applications you can refer the Digital Sky Manual here, or head to the Digital Sky portal homepage.

For getting your UIN, you will need to a pay a fee of Rs 1000. In case you are getting a fresh Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), that costs a bit helfty at Rs 25,000, and in case you have to renew your UAOP, that will cost you Rs 10,000.

Where do I pay fees for UIN and UAOP for drone?

If you are using the Digital Sky Platform, then you will be prompted for payment using a digital gateway. Or else, you can head to this page, where you will need to mention the transaction receipt number and upload copy of the payment receipt in Digital Sky Platform at the time of your application.

However, areas around airports, the international border, Vijay Chowk in New Delhi, State Secretariat complex in state capitals and other regions marked as “strategic locations/vital and military installations” come under the ‘No Drone’ Zones.

Drones, as of now in India, are only allowed to operate during daytime within visual line of sight up to a maximum altitude of 400 feet.

The guidelines are aimed to bolster innovation and technology in devices that have a wide range of applications, ranging from disaster relief to agriculture.