Previous posts in this series:
NPNT Regulations – Part 1: UIN, UAOP, Operational Restrictions
NPNT Regulations – Part 2: Flight Module Provider and Registered Flight Module
NPNT Regulations – Part 3: Digital Sky App, RPAS Acquisition Application, UAOP License Application

After a drone is purchased, it needs to be registered on the Digital Sky App. The registration of the drone is done by the manufacturer on behalf of the operator. This is similar to how the ROC registration is done by the dealer on your behalf when you purchase a vehicle. Before we get into the registration process, it is important to understand the guidelines for drone key pair.

Drone Key Pair

Under the NPNT requirements, each drone should maintain its own asymmetric key pair. This key pair will be used to sign a log bundle which needs to be uploaded to Digital Sky. The drone key pair can be generated on-board the drone, or it can be generated on another computer and transferred securely to the drone. The private key corresponding to this key pair should be stored securely within the drone. The public key corresponding to this key pair needs to be signed by the manufacturer’s certificate after the drone has been registered. Now, let’s see how the registration process works.

Management Server

As per Chapter 7 of the RPAS Guidance Manual, every drone manufacturer is mandated to operate a Management Server, either themselves or through a third party, in order to carry out drone registration and maintain a record of the registered drones and the UINs. The Management Server should be operated in compliance with the Indian IT Act.

Registration Process on Digital Sky App

The registration process consists of 3 steps:

  • Signing drone data using the manufacturer’s digital certificate
  • Sending registration request to Digital Sky API
  • Signing the drone’s public key

It needs to be carried out after a drone has been purchased by the operator. After registration, the operator will be able to apply for a UIN. When the operator has received a UIN for their drone, they will be able to apply for permission through Digital Sky.

Data Signing Devices

Indian IT Act allows the cryptographic data to be signed using an HSM (Hardware Security Module) or a DSC (Digital Signing Certificate) Token. As per the guidelines, the signing device must be FIPS 140-2 Level 3 or FIPS 140-2 Level 4 compliant.

HSM

An HSM is a computer designed to enable secure signing of data at a large scale. HSMs are high-end expensive devices. One of the smallest HSMs in the market, the Safenet USB HSM, costs upwards of Rs. 3,00,000/-. HSMs need to be loaded with Digital Certificates to enable signing.

Safenet USB HSM
Safenet USB HSM

DSC Token

DSC Tokens are small devices almost the size of USB Pen Drive. Unlike HSMs, these tokens are very cheap and cost around Rs.200/- per token. They can be obtained from most Indian Digital Certificate Providers such as eMudhra. For a fee, eMudhra will provide a DSC Token containing your organization’s Digital Certificate.

A DSC Token
A DSC Token

Signing the Data

Generally, PKCS11 is used to communicate with an HSM or a DSC Token to sign the data. The device then signs the given data securely and returns the signature. During this process, the private key never leaves the device.

Sending the API request

After the drone data is signed using either HSM or DSC token, the registration request needs to be sent to the Digital Sky API. The API spec is as follows:

Request Method: POST
Request URL: https://digitalsky.dgca.gov.in/api/droneDevice/register/{manufacturerBusinessIdentifier}
Request Body:

{
    "drone" : {
        "version" : "",
        "txn": "",
        "deviceId": "",
        "deviceModelId": "",
        "operatorBusinessIdentifier" : "",
        "idHash": "",
    },
    "signature" : "",
    "digitalCertificate" : ""
}

Operator Linkage

After the request is accepted by Digital Sky App, it will link the supplied deviceId with the operator account and the manufacturer account specified by the operatorBusinessIdentifier and the manufacturerBusinessIdentifier. This step is called as Operator Linkage.

iDronePort Management Server

The iDronePort Management Server is a third-party solution provided by Algopixel Technologies which handles the registration process in a convenient way.

iDronePort Management Server Web Dashboard
iDronePort Management Server Web Dashboard

The iDronePort Management Server comes with a desktop application to assist in the generation of key pair and signing of data using a DSC Token.

iDronePort Desktop App
iDronePort Desktop App

The iDronePort solution allows the developers to switch to Testbed mode which allows the developers to simulate the complete registration flow during the development process.

UIN Application on Digital Sky App

After the RPA acquisition, as described in our previous blog post, is approved, the operator will apply for UIN through Digital Sky App.

Digital Sky App: Drone Action Menu
Drone Action Menu

The UIN application requires the applicant to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of import permission / filled proforma for information of local acquisition
  • Copy of CIN document
  • Copy of GSTIN document
  • Copy of PanCard
  • Copy of security clearance from MHA or self-attested copies of at least two out of three valid identity proofs viz. Passport, Driving License or Aadhar Card (in case of individual/Indian remote pilot)
  • Copy of Permission/ license from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunication for usage of licensed frequencies used in RPA. (as applicable)
  • Copy of ETA from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunication for RPA operating in de-licensed frequency band(s) (as applicable)
  • Copy of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Flight Manual/Manufacturer’s Operating Manual (as applicable)
  • Copy of Manufacturer’s Maintenance guidelines (as applicable)
Digital Sky App: UIN Application: Step 1
UIN Application: Step 1

In Step 2, there will be a dropdown to select Unique Device Id. It will be populated by the Device Id registered previously by the manufacturer. The rest of the fields will be filled automatically.

Digital Sky App: UIN Application: Step 2
UIN Application: Step 2

In the 3rd step, you just need to accept the terms and submit the application. An official from DGCA will then review your application. When the UIN application is approved, your drone will be allotted a UIN.

Digital Sky App:  A drone with approved UIN
A drone with approved UIN

Next Post: NPNT Regulations – Part 5: Permission Application on Digital Sky App