What is allowed and what is not allowed to do with drones?

Drones have become highly popular since their inception in the recent years. Although the invention dates back to the early 1900s during World War I, its applications have widened and the technology has been popularized only in the 21st century. In a recent report published by United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems, it has been predicted that the number of drones is likely to double in the next year to about 2.5 million.
Owing to its high-end futuristic technology, drones are becoming popular as both a source of entertainment and as a major arena for business as well. Not only just manufacturing, but the end-usage is also what can help you make money. Purposefully, drones are classified into three broad groups, namely recreational, personal and commercial.
However, with the growing possibilities of its implementations, governments of various countries have come up with certain drone regulations to monitor the use of drones.

Common regulations of drone flying

Termed as Drone Regulation Policy, these rules are made compulsory for any individual or organization that plans to implement these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in delivering their services or simply use it for fun.

Licensing procedure

The concerned aviation authority sets specific guidelines for its drone fliers and you need to have a license to operate drones. United States’ FAA is equivalent to India’s Digital Sky Platform and both issue licenses pertaining to certain flying drone regulations set by their respective national aviation agencies.
For Indian drone operators, you will be required to register your drone and you will be issued with a UIN or Unique identification number. You have to seek permission form Digital Sky Platform before each flight. Alongside, for a US operator, they need to register their drones with the FAA and be specifically assigned with a remote pilot’s license.
Simply put, even if you are just flying the drone as a hobby, you need to have your drone registered at first and make sure you have a license from the concerned aviation authority of the country you are residing in.

What is allowed?

1. Anyone with registered drones and remote pilot’s license can fly them.
2. Drones are divided into 5 categories based on their weight. They are micro, small, medium, nano and large and only these drones can you fly.
3. You can fly drones in particular zones labeled as green and yellow, while red zones are prohibited.
4. Drones which can be operated must have certain mandatory equipment including GPS, ID plate, radio frequency identification, anti-collision light, etc.
5. You have to fly these aerial vehicles within your sight till a height of 400 ft.
6. You will have to fly your drones only in the light. Despite having night light, they cannot be in action during the dark.

What is not allowed?

1. Before flying a drone, you need to take permission from the Digital Sky Platform, if based in India, which is similar to FAA in USA. However, such permission is exempted in case you are flying a nano drone.
2. Areas near the airport and densely populated regions are strictly restricted for drone flying purposes.
3. Even horizontally deeper regions (beyond 500m) over the sea level are considered unsuitable for flying.
4. You are not allowed to fly in strategic locations of national importance. Also, border areas are restricted for drone operations.

Most of the points mentioned above are a reflection of the basic requirements that a user needs to be abiding by to fly these unmanned vehicles. Other than the government formulating drone regulations, the onus is on the manufacturers. In reality, technological advancements and applications are the only limitations to what a user can do with drone can do. What they cannot do is just as important considering the sheer number of possibilities. The scope is huge and open for further development.

Categorizing drones

As already stated, drones are categorically divided on the basis of their usage. Here is a closer look on how the rules for flying have changed for them in a specific manner.

Recreational drones

These drones are specially used by individuals as their personal interest or hobby and do not fulfill anything vital other than being a prop for enjoyment. With the introduction of new laws for drones, a flier is required to have prior knowledge of aeronautical safety along with other basic requirements of flying the drone.
Besides, in the US, a proper understanding of the rules of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is also mandatory. Similarly, India’s Digital Sky Platform and Ministry of Civil Aviation also requires the drone operator to be skilled adequately before executing his maiden flight.

Commercial drones

To fly commercially, you have to comply with several drone regulations and avail licenses depending on the country you reside.
The rules and regulations pertaining to commercial drone flying in some countries are mentioned below –

1. USA

To fly a drone commercially in the USA, you have to–

• Register your drone on the FAADroneZone website.
• Avail a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.
• Fly a drone that weighs 55 pounds, including payload.
• Fly in Class G airspace.

You can fly in airspaces other than Class G by availing authorization from the FAA under LAANC.
In addition to the above, you also have to comply with the following regulations –

• Not fly your drone form a moving vehicle, unless it is scarcely populated.
• Not fly directly over bystanders.
• Fly at speeds under 100 mph.
• Fly during civil twilight or daylight.
• Fly under 400 ft.
• Fly within line of sight.

The above rules are not applicable if you avail a Part 107 Waiver from the FAADroneZone website.

2. Canada

Canada segregates its drone regulations in two ways viz. basic operations and advanced operations. The advanced operations include flying a drone in controlled airspace, over bystanders, and close to 30 m of bystanders.

In such cases, you have to comply with the following rules –

• Pass the online Small Advanced Exam to avail a Pilot Certificate – Advanced operations.
• Pass a flight review.
• Register your drone and have the registration number imprinted on the drone.
• Avail permission from air traffic control when flying in controlled airspace.

You have to clear an online test along with a flight review and register your drone from the official website of Transport Canada.

3. Europe

The EU published the several drone rules and regulations on 11th June 2019. However, these rules will come into effect only on June 2020.
Under the new regulations, drone operations are divided into three categories viz. open, specific, and certified.
The specific and certified categories are for advanced operation of drones. Flying drones under both these categories will require authorization. The certified category is for using drones for high risk objectives like delivering dangerous goods, transporting people, and flying over densely populated areas.

4. Australia

In Australia, if you want to fly a drone weighing under 2 kg outside the general rules and regulations, you have to avail an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC) and aviation reference number from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
For flying a drone weighing more than 2 kg, you need to avail a remote pilot license (RePL) from CASA.
In addition to the above, you also need to avail prior permission from CASA before flying a drone commercially.
There are several CASA-verified drone safety apps which tell you where you can and cannot fly a drone. OpenSky is one such app available both on the Google Play store and Apple App store.

What does the future hold?

Introduction of drone regulations is a significant step towards the right path and have been drafted to suit the needs of the people. The regulations are expected to get better with time and change the face of drone flying.
Furthermore, the future scope of drone technology is unpredictable due to the drastic advancements in its innovation. As a result, drones hold the future of sectors like agriculture, construction and a lot more. Altogether, managing all of them will require extensive regulatory implications which will be a challenging task altogether.

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