CHENNAI: Developers can now test their drones not only in the city but also in four locations in the state under the new policy, Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) 2018, to regulate and control operation of the unmanned aerial vehicles ( UAV ) to ensure flight safety.
The DGCA has assigned Vellore, Salem, Coimbatore and Erode as the new test spots for drones under the new scheme by which drones will be registered and operated. Drones operators are supposed to register with https://digitalsky.dgca.gov.in/
These spots were chosen because Vellore, Salem and Coimbatore have airports with defined airspace with less traffic. This will be opened for drone developers and researchers for testing their units and train people to handle UAVs.
A senior AAI official said the listing of these locations was part of the move to regulate use of drones for flight safety and decide where it can be flown with permission, where it can be flown without permission and which are the restricted areas.
“There needs to be detailed guidelines for use of drones, which are being prepared, probably with colour coded maps,” he added.
MIT professor (aerospace) K Senthil Kumar said Anna University has proposed a test site near Gummidippoondi, which was cruicial to train skilled manpower and get operator license. Now, researchers and developers have to fly them inside university or college campuses in the city.
He said the sites selected must come under the purview of the DGCA as they are already flying zones. In Erode, they must have identified a site, he added.
The DGCA safety plan says online single-window system ‘Digital Sky’ for issue of Unique Identification Number (UIN), unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), and day-to-day operation of drones is being developed. Drones will be embedded with encrypted firmware to receive permissions through ‘Digital Sky Application’ each time before take-off. The platform works on ‘no permission no take-off (NPNT)’ concept.
Senthil Kumar said drones would be among the top five business of the future. “We need skilled manpower to power it. The applications are many — fire service, agriculture and others. A situation will come when there will be drone taxis,” he said.
The test spots are being identified so that drones can be tested and operators could be trained and given licences like pilots who are licensed to fly planes. These activities can be carried out at these spots without interfering with civilian flights.