Dec 2021 | No Comment

Ministry of Civil Aviation releases India’s airspace map for drone operations

The drone airspace map comes as a followthrough of the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021 released by the Central Government on 25 August 2021, the PLI scheme for drones released on 15 September 2021 and the Geospatial Data Guidelines issued on 15 Feb 2021. All these policy reforms will catalyse super-normal growth in the upcoming drone sector.

Given its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and its huge domestic demand, India has the potential of becoming a global drone hub by 2030.

Top 10 features of the drone airspace maps

• The drone airspace map is an interactive map of India that demarcates the yellow and red zones across the country.

• 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.

• In green zones, no permission whatsoever is required for operating drones with an allup weight upto 500 kg.

• 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.

• Drone operations in yellow zone require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority – AAI, IAF, Navy, HAL etc. as the case may be.

• Yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km earlier to 12 km from the airport perimeter.

• Red zone is the ‘no-drone zone’ within which drones can be operated only after a permission from the Central Government.

• The airspace map may be modified by authorised entities from time to time.

• Anyone planning to operate a drone should mandatorily check the latest airspace map for any changes in zone boundaries.

• The drone airspace map is freely available on the digital sky platform to all without any login requirements.

Top 15 features of drone rules, 2021 (Notified on 25 Aug 2021)

• Based on a premise of trust, self-certification and nonintrusive monitoring.

• Several permissions and approvals abolished. Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5. Types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.

• Digital sky platform being developed as a user-friendly online single-window system.

• Interactive drone airspace map with red and yellow zones to be released by 24 September 2021.

• No permission required for operating drones in green zones.

• Yellow zone, where ATC permission is required, has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.

• No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for noncommercial use) and drones.

• No security clearance required before issuance of any registration or licence.

• Coverage of drones under drone rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.

• No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.

• No requirement of import clearance from DGCA.

• Remote pilot licence to be issued by DGCA within 15 days of pilot receiving the remote pilot certificate from an authorised drone school.

• Maximum penalty for violations reduced to INR 1 lakh. Was several lakhs earlier.

• Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.

• Drone promotion council to be set up by government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders.

Top 15 features of the pli scheme for drones (Approved on 15 Sep 2021)

• The total amount allocated for the PLI scheme for drones and drone components is INR 120 crore spread over three financial years. This amount is nearly double the combined turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in FY 2020-21.

• The incentive for a manufacturer of drones and drone components shall be as high as 20% of the value addition made by her.

• The value addition shall be calculated as the annual sales revenue from drones and drone components (net of GST) minus the purchase cost (net of GST) of drone and drone components.

• The Government, has agreed to keep the PLI rate constant at 20% for all three years, an exceptional treatment given only to the drone industry. In PLI schemes for other sectors, the PLI rate reduces every year.

• The proposed tenure of the PLI scheme is three years starting in FY 2021- 22. The PLI scheme will be extended or redrafted after studying its impact in consultation with the industry.

• The Government has agreed to fix the minimum value addition norm at 40% of net salesfor drones and drone components instead of 50%, another exceptional treatment given to the drone industry. This will allow widening the number of beneficiaries.

• The PLI scheme covers a wide variety of drone components:

▪ Airframe, propulsion systems(engine and electric), power systems, batteries and associated components, launch and recovery systems;

▪ Inertial Measurement Unit, Inertial Navigation System, flight control module, ground control station and associated components;

▪ Communications systems (radio frequency, transponders, satellite-based etc.)

▪ Cameras, sensors, spraying systems and related payload etc.;

▪ ‘Detect and Avoid’ system, emergency recovery system, trackers etc. and other components critical for safety and security.

• The list of eligible components may be expanded by the Government from time to time, as the drone technology evolves.

• The Government has agreed to widen the coverage of the incentive scheme to include developers of drone-related IT products also.

• The Government has kept the eligibility norm for MSME and startups in terms of annual sales turnover at a nominal level – INR 2 cr (for drones) and INR 50 lakhs (for drone components). This will allow widening the number of beneficiaries.

• Eligibility norm for non-MSME companies in terms of annual sales turnover has been kept at INR 4 crore (for drones) and INR 1 crore (for drone components).

CGI to develop 5G for UAV positioning

CGI has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency to develop a proof of concept to enhance the navigational capabilities of airspace users in areas where traditional navigation systems alone cannot provide sufficient performance. Future aircraft, such as UAV and innovative air mobility solutions, will need to safely operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) within cities and other built-up areas, where the signals of GNSS are often disrupted. The concept being developed by CGI and its partners leverages 5G networks, alongside traditional navigation systems, to provide hybrid-positioning solutions. In addition to secure communications for command and control of vehicles, and delivery of high-quality streaming video for BVLOS operations, 5G networks can also be used as a source for navigational bearings that will improve the accuracy, integrity and availability beyond that which satellite navigation systems alone can provide. The service will also offer greater resilience against natural or intentional disruption of Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services.

FIXAR enters the Indian market with Paras Aerospace

EU-based commercial drone design and software developer FIXAR, has signed an exclusivity agreement with the leading Indian technology development company Paras Aerospace, a subsidiary of Paras Defense and Space Technologies Limited, for FIXAR unmanned solution distribution in India.

Both companies will collaborate to ensure access to efficient and costeffective unmanned aerial solutions offering an autonomous vertical takeoff and landing model FIXAR 007 and a professional multirotor FIXAR INDOOR. Paras Aerospace will be the Master Certification Compliance partner for FIXAR in India.

Autonomous remote UAV operations solution

SkyGrid, a Boeing, SparkCognition company has released a new autonomous remote UAV operations capability to allow flight managers and operators to control and execute flights from remote locations. Using artificial intelligence and a broad array of airspace-related data feeds, SkyGrid is enabling safe remote operations for missions involving single and multiple drones.

Aquiline Drones to transport human tissue and organs

Aquiline Drones (AD), an American drone manufacturer and cloud technology enterprise has recently announced the culmination of its extensive effort and official formation of AD Airlines after being awarded its Air Carrier Certificate by the FAA on September 16, 2021, which enables AD to commercialize its lifesaving tissue and organ delivery service.

Specifically, AD Airlines will implement its patent-pending and unique Mixed Modal Transport Model (R2M2), starting with the use of manned aircraft, and gradually incorporating drones as FAA approvals are realized. R2M2 is an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven transportation logistics platform supported by the AD Cloud. It uses AI algorithms embedded in AD’s cognitive agent “Spartacus’ to manage a hyperledger blockchain platform to optimize transportation logistics. Essentially, AD Airlines plans on using both drones and planes on its Air Carrier Certificate to provide a first-ever comprehensive solution to the human organ and tissue transplant delivery system within the medical industry.

‘Go-To’ UTM provider for India BVLOS trials

Altitude Angel UTM (Unified Traffic Management) technology provider, has announced its Guardian UTM Enterprise platform will be utilized by a further three consortiums trialing Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations in India.

The platform is now powering half of the eight consortiums involved in trials approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India along with other security and regulatory agencies.

Following recent announcement that the Blue Dart consortium would be deploying Guardian UTM Enterprise as part of the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ initiative during which drones, operating BVLOS, will deliver vaccines and emergency medical supplies from a district hospital to a primary healthcare center, Altitude Angel has been retained by two consortiums headed by Dunzo and one by Flipkart Air.

Dunzo Med Air and FlipKart Air are also both participating in the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ trials. Altitude Angel will provide GuardianUTM Enterprise platform to both consortiums as they conduct BVLOS drone operations which will include the delivery of life saving vaccines. The impetus of the project will be to enable healthcare deliveries, including COVID-19 vaccines, to different districts in the State of Telangana.

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