India Makes Sweeping Changes to Drone Rules, Slashing Red Tape
(Bloomberg) -- India relaxed rules on the use of drones, making it easier to acquire licenses and allowing heavier payloads so they can potentially be used as unmanned flying taxis.
Payloads of up to 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) are now allowed, up from 300kg previously, while operators require only five authorizations to fly drones compared with 25 before, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement Thursday. Remote pilot licenses will no longer be needed to fly the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles and there won’t be any restrictions on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies, it said.
The changes mark a significant easing of regulations initially introduced in March. Those were perceived as being restrictive because “they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few ‘free to fly’ green zones were available,” the ministry said.
Thursday’s announcement comes two months after a suspected drone attack caused two low-intensity blasts at an Indian Air Force base in the northern city of Jammu, injuring two people. After prohibiting civilian use of drones until a few years ago, India has allowed several private enterprises to test various functions, including deliveries and surveillance.
“Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas,” the ministry said, adding that the country has the potential to be a global drone hub by 2030, helped by huge domestic demand.
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