No-permission, no-takeoff policy: First drone after 2018 norms takes off

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Pune-based Quidich Innovation Labs, together with Asteria Aerospace, accomplished the first ‘no-permission, no-takeoff’ or NPNT-compliant drone flight in Tumakuru, marking the first such operation because the drone rules policy came into impact in December 2018.

“Curbs on the flying of drones with out permission is the important motive behind the compliance mechanism being put in place,” mentioned Neel Mehta, co-founder and director of Bengaluru-headquartered Asteria Aerospace.

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“Use cases for drones are immense — industrial inspections, geospatial surveys, agricultural surveys, general surveillance and security (in the green zones) — however discharge of fabric, or bundle supply through drones are usually not permitted yet.”

“This milestone units the stage for seamless, compliant drone operations all through the nation. However, more green zones need to be notified by the MCA for the nation to harness the complete potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” he added.

The portal was opened in early 2019. However, ancillary processes like the procedure of certifying a drone for NPNT compliance, the procedure of issuing UIN, and approval of the first green zones had delayed operations, say trade consultants.

Operations are given a go-ahead (OPA) provided that they lie in a green zone, as notified by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA). The OPA is a digital file fed into the app, and the drone will take off provided that the file is authenticated.

Before any flight operation, one must get three registrations under the Digital Sky portal, which is run by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). These are the Unique Identification Number (UIN) for the drone, Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) for the pilot, and the Online Permission Artefacts (OPA) during which the pilot mentions the placement and goal of flight operations.

Friday’s trial was the first time a drone operation under Digital Sky’s end-to-end workflow was put to check.

In May, six green zones acquired security clearance for unhindered operations of NPNT-compliant drones. These are situated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, overlaying a diameter of 10 km each and floor area of 78.5 sq km. The Digital Sky app makes use of GPS to make sure operations occur in the permitted zones.

At current, flying of drones in different zones is against the law and any drone more than 250 grams (Nano drone) requires NPNT compliance. However, the MCA has granted conditional exemptions for operators concerned in anti-locusts measures or Covid-led sanitization operations.

This comes because the DGCA gave its nod to 13 distinct consortia for conducting experimental supply trials last month.


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