NEW DELHI: India will soon take the first step towards operating drones “beyond line of sight” — flying them over a distance where the operator can’t see this “remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)” while piloting it to its destination and back.
Once successful, this will eventually pave the way for using drones for deliveries, e-commerce, and even as air taxis in areas of India where there are no security concerns that would prohibit their use.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has invited expressions of interest (EOI) from consortia of experts for “conducting experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations of RPA in India, leading to submission of proof of concept (PoC) for safe BVLOS operations”.
According to the note issued by joint DG G Rajasekar, the scope of this operation includes beyond visual line of sight RPA operation, unmanned aircraft system (UAS) traffic management system deployment, supplementary services for 3D maps, weather data, surveillance and telemetry data of manned and unmanned aircraft.
The DGCA note adds that “experimental BVLOS operations followed by submission of PoC should be completed before DGCA issues any regulations for BVLOS operations”. The proposed BVLOS experimental operations of remotely piloted aircraft will be conducted in controlled conditions within identified and segregated low-altitude Indian airspace for at least two months. Based on this, the consortia will submit the concept with evidence to the DGCA.
Drones have traditionally been used for military applications and now are being increasingly used for commercial applications at low altitudes for purposes like photography, monitoring, surveying, mapping,
, delivery, search and rescue, disaster relief and public safety. However, the true economic and social potential of UAS technology can be harnessed by enabling BVLOS operations, the DGCA note says.
Uber Elevate, the US ride-sharing major’s aerial taxi arm, is already considering India as one of the five countries where it wants to launch services. Uber plans to start commercial operations of “on demand aviation” aerial taxis by 2023 in
, Los Angeles and an international city.
had last year held meeting with the aviation ministry. But to do so in India it will need enabling rules that the DGCA’s proposed trial run may eventually lead to if all goes well.
Passenger drones will be small vertical take-off and landing aircraft that can be used for urban mobility,” the Uber Elevate website said recently.
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