Mumbai

DGCA set to take drone operations to next level

Taking flight: Each of the selected consortiums have to conduct 100 hours of flying with the drone being out of sight within low altitude Indian territorial airspace for two months.

Taking flight: Each of the selected consortiums have to conduct 100 hours of flying with the drone being out of sight within low altitude Indian territorial airspace for two months.   | Photo Credit: Paul Faith

Experiment to prove feasibility of beyond visual line of sight operations for unmanned aerial vehicles

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is all set to conduct an experiment to prove the feasibility of beyond visual line of sight operations for unmanned aerial vehicles, where a pilot will remotely track the device

The DGCA has invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from a consortia of experts comprising a team of expert agencies and service providers, who will each conduct a two-month test, before preparing a Proof of Concept. Each of the selected consortiums have to conduct a minimum of 100 hours of flying with the drone being out of sight. The objective of the experiment will be to conduct experimental operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in controlled conditions within identified and segregated low altitude Indian territorial airspace for at least two months.

During this period, the parties selected will collect evidence, prepare a safety case and submit proof of its capability to the DGCA.

Drones have traditionally been used only for military applications and now are being increasingly used for commercial applications at low altitudes for purposes like photography, monitoring, surveying, mapping, precision agriculture, delivery, search and rescue, disaster relief and public safety. In all the above instances, the drone is flown in the visual line of sight. The true economic and social potential of drones can be harnessed by going beyond the visual line of sight, the DGCA said.

According to a note issued by Joint Director General G. Rajasekar, the scope of this experiment includes beyond visual line of sight RPA operation, unmanned aircraft system traffic management system deployment, supplementary services for 3D maps, weather data, surveillance and telemetry data of manned and unmanned aircraft. To begin with, the DGCA has only permitted sorties during the daytime only. On successful completion of day experiments for at least one month, night operations may be considered for approval by the DGCA. Mumbai-based Drona Aviation’s Dinesh Sain said that such an experiment would help in using drones for delivery in the days to come. In December 2018, food ordering and delivery startup Zomato acquired TechEagle Innovations, a Lucknow-based startup working exclusively on drones. The startup is helping Zomato carve a path toward drone-based food delivery in India, creating a hub to hub delivery network powered by hybrid multi-rotor drones.

Until November 2018, flying drones in India was prohibited by the government. However, from December 1, companies and individuals are able to use and operate drones. The DGCA’s new policy now provides guidelines for how unmanned aircraft will be allowed to operate within the country. Within the policy, the Ministry of Civil Aviation also started the registration process for companies and individuals who want to operate drones in all areas, except a few due to security reasons.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 2:20:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/dgca-set-to-take-drone-operations-to-next-level/article27154094.ece

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