ABC of the Legal Framework of Drones in India

The DGCA recently released a set of regulations for flying drones in India. We invited articles on implications of these regulations. This article is submitted by  who is a Strategic Intellectual Property Evangelist Corporate Lawyer and Patent Attorney with 12+ years Experience. 

Welcome move by the Directorate General of Central Aviation (DGCA), on framing the policy roadmap of deploying remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in India. The remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) is commonly called as drone. The clear intent of the current policy is to use the drone technology in different sectors to solve massive problems faced by different sectors in India in the Industry 4 Era.


The policy is coming into effect from December 1, 2018. There are majorly five different categories for the different type of drones which are to be introduced in India. The five different categories include Nano, Micro, Small, Medium and Large and are differentiated based on weight parameter and has height restriction at which the said drones can be operated. The detailed characterisation of the drones are as follows:

i) Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.

ii) Micro : Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.

iii) Small : Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.

iv) Medium : Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.

v) Large : Greater than 150 kg.


The Rule 15A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 describes the operation ambit of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) system. Except the Nano drone, any other drone has to obtain necessary permits and thereafter a Unique Identification Number (UIN) is allotted by the Director-General. The general validity of the permit will be valid for a period not exceeding five years subject to compliance parameters imposed by the Director-General in the permit. The permit obtained may be renewed for a period not exceeding five years from time to time. The Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 describes the special directions issued by  the Director-General relating to the operation, use, possession, maintenance or navigation of aircraft flying in or over India or of aircraft registered in India. The policy provides the requirements to obtain Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and other operational requirements for the smooth operation of the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).


The implication and utilisation of the recent commercial drone policy will assist the agricultural business sector to collect the required data and the big data generated can be studied to solve the current problem of famines in many affected areas in India. Imagine the big data collected can provide in-depth analysis to understand the weather conditions over period of time which in turn can provide solution to grow different crops round the year and indirectly the overall ecosystem will provide employment opportunities in India.


The interesting point of the outcome is that Amazon and other technology companies working in India who have aggressively filed numerous intellectual property rights related to drone technology will be benefited in the long run. The technology ecosystem is becoming conducive for Intellectual property rights to foster in India. One can foresee a number of patent licensing deals in near future in India. This welcome move will eventually increase the GDP of India.

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