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Ministry of Civil Aviation grants approval to 13 consortia to operate drones

It is considered necessary in the public interest to conduct the BVLOS experimental flights

Ministry of Civil Aviation, Drones, SpiceJet, ShopX, Dunzo, Throttle Aerospace, Transport goods, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Beyond visual line of sight, Experimental drone operations, UIN, Rule 15A, Aircraft Rules 1937, Airports Authority of India, Tamil Nadu, Asteria Aerospace, Clearsky Flight Consortium, Daksha Unmanned Systems, Sagar Defence Engineering, Saubika Consortium, ANRA Technologies, Washington

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted exemptions to 13 consortia to operate drones on an experimental basis, without the need for unique identification numbers and operator permits till 30 September 2020.

The move paves the way for these consortia which include ones floated by budget airline SpiceJet, ShopX, Dunzo and drone maker Throttle Aerospace, to pilot the use of drones to transport goods, once approved

The pilots will be a part of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) experimental drone operations, for which it had floated an expression of interest in May 2019. Eleven out of the 13 consortia are awaiting final approvals from DGCA.

The approval process is on for the rest. It is considered necessary in the public interest to conduct the BVLOS experimental flights, even though the drones to be deployed for such flights may not meet the requirements of UIN and Operator Permit stipulated under Rule 15A of the Aircraft Rules 1937.

The experimental flights will be conducted only with rotary wing drones and have to be conducted by trained operators under the supervision of a monitoring team. It will also be conducted in airspace approved by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and have to be geo-fenced to ensure that they do not stray beyond the approved airspace boundary.

Other consortia that have been exempted include the Aerospace Industry Development Association of Tamil Nadu, Asteria Aerospace, Clearsky Flight Consortium, Daksha Unmanned Systems, Sagar Defence Engineering, Saubika Consortium and Value Thought IT Solutions.

Two consortia floated by Washington-based ANRA Technologies, which builds fleet management software and air traffic management solutions for drones, have also made it into the list. Online food ordering platform Swiggy is a partner of ANRA in one of its two consortia. Dunzo and Throttle Aerospace were looking to start experimental BVLOS flights by April 2020-end, but the COVID-19 virus outbreak pushed back their plans.

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