Hyderabad: India has opened its skies by releasing the airspace map for drone operations. The industry believes the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s move will enable drone operations for several use cases and boost drone deployment and industry in the future.
The map is available on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s digital sky platform at https://digitalsky.dgca.gov.in/home. The drone airspace map comes as a follow-through of the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 released by the Central Government on 25 August 2021, the PLI scheme for drones released on 15 September 2021 and the Geospatial Data Guidelines issued on 15 February 2021.
“Since the first regulation for drones was notified in 2018, while various aspects of the regulation were operationalised segment by segment, airspace drone map was on a standstill. Release of the airspace map now breaks the most critical barrier for enabling drone operations in India. Looking forward to the first million drone flights in India,” Smit Shah, director-Partnerships at Drone Federation of India, told Telangana Today.
Shah added, “With most parts of the country being in green zones, and areas beyond the five km perimeter of the airport being in yellow zones, the definition of airspace map will bring about 95 per cent of commercial drone operations in the legal space.”
Hyderabad-based Marut Drones founder Prem Kumar Vislawath said, “Entire country is looking like a green zone from top. It will really give a massive boost to the drone industry. The interactive map makes it simple for people to understand. I would consider 2021 as the big bang moment for our drone industry powered by the Ministry of Civil Aviation leading to rapid creation of India’s drone ecosystem.”
The drone airspace map is an interactive map of India that demarcates the yellow and red zones across the country. Green zone is the airspace up to 400 feet that has not been designated as a red or yellow zone; and up to 200 feet above the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport. In green zones, no permission whatsoever is required for operating drones with an all-up weight up to 500 kg. Earlier, even for green zone operations, no permission-no take-off (NPNT) was applicable, now this condition has been removed.
Yellow zone is the airspace above 400 feet in a designated green zone; above 200 feet in the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport and above ground in the area located between 5-8 km from the perimeter of an operational airport. Drone operations in the yellow zone require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority – AAI, IAF, Navy, HAL etc. as the case may be. The Yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km earlier to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
Red zone is the ‘no-drone zone’ within which drones can be operated only after a permission from the Central Government.
Vislawath added, “Soon, drone companies would be able to get permission from government authorities for drone operations in yellow and red zones through the Digital Sky Platform.”
The Ministry said the airspace map may be modified by authorised entities from time to time. Anyone planning to operate a drone should mandatorily check the latest airspace map for any changes in zone boundaries. The drone airspace map is available on the Digital Sky platform to all without any login requirements.