CHENNAI: Aviation experts seem divided over the DGCA’s draft guidelines allowing civil use of drones in India.
While a section of the industry is convinced that the increased usage of drones for civil applications is beneficial, experts believe privacy issues need to be tackled first before allowing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on Indian skies.
Currently, the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have notified rules for civilian and commercial operations of drones, with some caveats.
These unmanned aerial machines can be used for damage assessment of property and life in areas affected by natural calamities, critical infrastructure monitoring in power facilities, ports, pipelines and aerial mapping. Countries like Japan have used drones in farming, while others have used them in recreational fields like photography. “Simply put, UAVs are flying cameras and delivery boys. If put to good use, benefits are immense. But its versatility, flexibility, small size and reach can be misused including invasion of privacy, or causing damage to moving aerial, ground or naval vehicles, delivering banned or dangerous goods etc. The work of government agencies and regulators therefore becomes tough. It’s akin to regulating ubiquitous motor vehicles or cell-phones - both of which can be put to benevolent or criminal use,” Amber Dubey, Partner & India head of Aerospace and Defence, KPMG told Express.
In DGCA’s own words, unmanned aircraft operations present problems in terms of ensuring safety. But it felt it necessary to develop guidelines. Currently, aviation norms do not cover use of drones or their sale and purchase. The DGCA had restricted their usage in October, 2014.
“Safety reports from several civil aviation and safety authorities in the world have revealed a significant number of near-collisions. With the number of incidents increasing, the potential for collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft is growing alarmingly,” said Rob Eagles, Director, ATM Infrastructure, IATA.