Ban on Drone Import

On February 9, 2022, Union government put ban on the import of drones other than for security, research and defence purposes.

Why was drone import banned?

Government banned drone import with the aim of promoting ‘Made in India’ drones. However, there will be no ban on import of drone parts.

Steps taken by government to boost domestic manufacturing

Government has taken several steps for boosting domestic manufacturing of drones and drone component. For instance,

  1. Government announced a Rs 120-crore Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.
  2. It liberalised drone operation rules.
  3. Government also prohibited Import policy for drones in Completely Built Up or Semi Knocked Down or Completely Knocked Down form, with exceptions provided for R&D, defence and security purposes.
  4. Import of drones for R&D, defence and security purposes will require government clearances.
  5. New Drone Rules, 2021 were released. It reduced fees and compliances required to be paid to operate drones.
  6. Civil Aviation Ministry launched an airspace map of India, to demarcate areas where drones can be used without permission as well as areas in which drones cannot be operated without the permission of authorities.

New Drone Rules 2021

New Drone Rules 2021 were released to bring a more liberalised regime for unmanned aircraft systems. Key provisions of the new rules include:

  1. A Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
  2. In green zones, no flight permission will be required up to 400 feet, while in area between 8-12 km from airport perimeter, flight permission will not be required up to 200 feet.
  3. No pilot licence will be required for micro drones, nano drone and for R&D organisations.
  4. There will be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in country.
  5. DGFT will regulate the import of drones and drone components.
  6. Security clearance will not be required before any registration or licence issuance.
  7. Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.

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