Good news is flying a Drone in India is legal.
According to India’s national aviation authority, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but we recommend being aware of and comply with the drone regulations listed below before doing so.
However, that said, this rule is only for Indian Nationals. As for Foreigners, there is a different route they need to take in order to fly a drone or take those awesome shots on their trip to India.
Special Travel Considerations to fly a Drone
Foreigners are currently not allowed to fly drones in India. For commercial purpose, they need to lease the drone to an Indian entity who in-turn will obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP from DGCA.
For some weekend getaways – you could go for something simpler like downloading an app and taking permission then and there. In short it is called India’s No Permission, No Takeoff Policy – Before every single flight, drone pilots are required to request permission to fly via a mobile app, which will automatically process the request and grant or reject it.
These are some drone shots we took on our way to Chail, Himachal Pradesh for which we took permission on the mobile app.
The general rules for flying a drone in India are –
- All drones except those in the Nano category must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
- A permit is required for commercial drone operations (except for those in the Nano category flown below 50 feet and those in the Micro category flown below 200 feet).
- Drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight at all times while flying.
- Drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet vertically.
- Drones cannot be flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones”, which include areas near airports, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations, and military installations.
- Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained by filing a flight plan and obtaining a unique Air Defense Clearance (ADC)/Flight Information Center (FIC) number.
Drone Categories in India
Registration is required for all but the Nano category.
- Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams (.55 pounds)
- Micro: From 250 grams (.55 pounds) to 2kg (4.4 pounds)
- Small: From 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
- Medium: From 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
- Large: Greater than 150kg (33 pounds)
Required Drone Equipment in India
Also worth noting is that India has specific requirements regarding the types of features a drone must have to be flown in India (excluding those in the Nano category). These mandatory requirements include:
- Return-to-home (RTH)
- Anti-collision light
- ID plate
- A flight controller with flight data logging capability
- RF ID and SIM/No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT)
All drone operators will register their drone and request permission to fly for each flight through India’s Digital Sky Platform. The Digital Sky Platform and further details will be available on the DGCA website from December 1, 2018.
The bottom line is, remember the points below –
- Don’t fly a Nano drone above 50ft & Micro drone above 200ft from the Ground level.
- The Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) granted is not transferable and it is up to 5 years.
- While flying a drone, it is utmost important to make sure that the drone is visible to you all the time while flying.
- Ensure that the drone is in good condition.
- Following the guidelines of flying is utmost necessary.
- Also, the Drones cannot be flown vertically to more than 400 feet and 60 meters in height.
- It is important to respect the privacy of the people.
- Flying a drone on private property without information can be dangerous, seek permission before heading onto this decision.
- Flying a drone when you are still is applicable, don’t fly drone while you are moving (in a car, ship, or any other vehicle)
- You are strictly not allowed to fly the drone at night; it is permissible to enjoy shooting only in day time.
- There is no permission granted to flying a drone in a “No Fly Zone” area which includes airports, international borders, and military installations.
- To be precise, you cannot fly drone within 5 km radius of Airports based in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and For the remaining airports in a different location, you cannot fly drone within a 3km radius.