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Explained: What is the voluntary registration of drones scheme

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New Delhi, Jan 14: The Aviation Ministry announced a scheme providing a window up to January 31 for voluntary registration of all drones and their operators, days after top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack.

Those who fail to register will face action under the Indian Penal Code and the Aircraft Act.

Explained: What is the voluntary registration of drones scheme

In a notice, the ministry said, "The presence of such drones as well as drone operators has come to the notice of the government which do not comply with the CAR (civil aviation requirements)."

Disclosure scheme to tag rogue drones rolled out

"In order to facilitate the identification of civil drones and drone operators, a one-time opportunity for voluntary disclosure of such drones and drone operators is being provided... All persons in possession of drones are required to complete the process (of online registration) by January 31, 2020," it added.

The number of illegal drones in India is likely to be between 50,000 and 60,000, co-chair of a FICCI committee on drones, Ankit Mehta, had said on October 22 last year.

Major General Soleimani, 62, the head of Iran's elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed when a US military drone fired missiles at his convoy while it was leaving the Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

A senior Indian government official said the attack "precipitated the government to take action to regulate hundreds of non-compliant drones" that are operating in the country.

"What happened at Gatwick airport in December 2018 was already there on our mind," the official added.

Gatwick airport, Britain's second-busiest after Heathrow airport, remained closed from December 19-21, 2018, when multiple rogue drones were seen flying over the perimeter fence. During the three-day period, around 1,000 flights had to be cancelled or diverted to prevent any untoward incident.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on August 27, 2018, had issued the CAR to regulate the use of civilian drones in the Indian airspace.

Under these regulations, a process has been prescribed for drone operators to obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and other permissions.

Called the "No Permission-No Take Off" regulation, a drone operator has to use the DGCA's software programme DigiSky to obtain valid permissions before operating drones in India.

Saudi Arabia 'not consulted' over US drone strike to kill Iran general Qasem Soleimani

In the notice issued on Monday, the ministry said, "On successful submission of voluntary disclosure of possessing drone, a Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) and an Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN) will be issued online which will help in validation of operation of drones in India."

However, the DAN and the OAN do not confer any right to operate drones in India if it does not fulfil the DGCA's drone regulations, the ministry clarified.

"Further, ownership of drones in India without a valid DAN or OAN shall invite penal action as per applicable laws. This database will be issued to process each case as per the regulations by seeking further information, if required," the ministry stated.

Smit Shah, Director - Partnerships, Drone Federation of India (DFI), said on Monday,"We believe that such a step taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation will provide an accurate number of existing drones in India."

"This data should ideally become the base for understanding the scale of drone operations in India and for taking further policy decisions. This may enable flying of drones easily in the future while maintaining high standards of safety, security and accountability." said Shah.

The Drone Federation of India (DFI) is an association of drone companies such as Asteria Aerospace, Quidich Innovation Labs, AutoMicroUAS, Aarav Unmanned Systems and Indrones.

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