The Indian drone regulations came into effect on 1st December, 2018. This means that the government put in place the rules, laws and legal procedures which the drone pilots and operators must adhere to for a legal drone flight. Hence, flying drones were made legal in India on 1st December, 2018. However, the legal status of drone flights must not be misunderstood for their liberty. There do exist several strict measures which need to be taken before a drone can take to the skies and currently those measures are yet to reach their apex before they can be implemented upon consumers. With advancing technology, India decided to step into the drone game by legalizing its status. Presently, there have been many incidents across the world which range from airport chaos caused by drones to drone aided assassination attempts. Thus, it was necessary to gauge the potential drones carry and work towards directing its growth in the country.

Before drone owners can apply for any of the legal applications, it is a must to familiarize oneself with the variety of drone laws in the country. There are a number of steps which have to be taken, like getting a UIN, UAOP, an NPNT certificate, etc., all of which is covered is covered in the article here. A drone pilot requires stringent clearances and permissions from both the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the local police along with appropriate licenses. Digital Sky is a platform which facilitates this route. To put it into perspective, Digital Sky is the link between the drone pilots and the DGCA. Through Digital Sky, a person can apply for a UIN, UAOP and other certification. Again, before elaborating on the rules, we must understand Digital Sky and its role.

What is Digital Sky?

Digital Sky is basically an online web portal which coordinates with the pilots, operators and authorities. A drone operator or pilot can register their NPNT (No Permission-No Takeoff) compliant drones on the web portal with the the necessary certificate and licenses. The online portal has several options for drones of all categories and sizes. Users can also keep themselves updated with recent announcements from the government regarding drones and browse through all the rules of legal drone flight.

This online platform is immensely useful as all applications and pre-flight permissions can be managed in one place rather than coordinating with a number of authorities.

How was Digital Sky formed?

Digital Sky was formed by the efforts of a collective group of intellectuals called iSPIRT (Indian Software Products Industry Round Table). iSPIRT is essentially an independent think tank which advises government on the policy matters related to technology. They mainly convert ideas to policy proposals to take to government stakeholders, converting conversations into playbooks for product entrepreneurs and converting actions of self-help communities into market catalysts for the Software Product Industry. Digital Sky was conceived by the members of iSPIRT. The web portal is compiled by information technology experts under the supervision and guidelines of iSPIRT.

Drawbacks of Digital Sky:

As a web portal, the Digital Sky system is nearing perfection but the real problem is much more deep rooted. This online portal is based on the foundation principles of legal drone flights in India, which is NPNT. This one principle is the key to legal drones and currently drone manufacturers are facing challenges in making drones NPNT compliant. This inhibits users from being able to register on the web portal, thus obstructing drone flight further. The NPNT compliance certificate not only hinders the growth of Digital Sky but is also a roadblock in many applications like the UIN, UAOP, etc.

Hopefully, with the increasing focus on getting drones to fly legally in India, manufacturers are working on solutions to make their drones NPNT compliant. Therefore, we can expect NPNT compliant drones to hit the skies within 2019.

In Part Two of this series, we cover the drones which you can fly without any registration or restriction and also a glimpse into the Drone Policy 1.0.