The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has partnered with the Quality Council of India (QCI) to streamline the drone certification process in India. Earlier, a drone manufacturer had to reach out to the DGCA and demonstrate that their drone follows all the regulatory guidelines. However, this has been changed to a certification-based approach. Now, drone manufacturers, even the ones whose drone models have been approved, have to get the NPNT (No-Permission-No-Takeoff) certification from QCI.

Simplifying the Drone Certification Process in India

The DGCA and the QCI have signed a memorandum to develop a certification scheme based on NPNT regulations. This will ensure that every drone in India meets the legal requirements to be sold, imported, and operated. Prior to this agreement, the time taken to have an NPNT drone approved by the DGCA was much longer. The scheme of this certification will incorporate guidelines included in the ISO/IEC 17067:2013 (international product certification).

The DGCA initiated a drone enlistment process, to keep a record of civilian drones, in January 2020. More than 20,000 drones have already been enlisted with the DGCA. Un-registered drones in India are a serious security hazard and can jeopardize the safety of the civilian airspace. Therefore, the certification scheme will enable only legal and NPNT-compliant drones to be sold on the market. This will further help to curb illegal drones.

As of now, there are only 17 NPNT-compliant commercial drones available for purchase in India. Apart from commercial drones, enthusiasts can purchase and fly nano drones that do not require registration or pre-flight permission. However, even nano-drones will have to be enlisted with the DGCA. During the pandemic, India saw a rise in the use of drones and drone startups. Thirteen consortia were cleared to test BVLOS drone operations. Thus, we can say that the move is focussed on boosting the domestic-drone industry. It will also allow the import of only those drones that meet the Indian regulatory criteria.