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As air traffic growth in India puts pressure on available airspace, the country’s unmanned aerial vehicle industry is calling for a centralized body to draft regulations and set standards for UAV systems. The need for central planning is increasingly being felt. In 2007 the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) has recommended that in future, all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) should be cleared for their airworthiness. The recommendation is under consideration by the defence ministry. Potential failures need to be anticipated, deviations in design and manufacture assessed, operational demands simulated and evaluated, and designs certified. If CEMILAC's insistence on airworthiness certification for UAVs is accepted, norms and procedures would have to be laid down. In addition, certification protocols and procedures must be worked out, so that they can be applied for the unmanned craft.

But an effective counter-issue is the collateral damage a UAV can cause if it spins out of control and crashes on human settlements. UAVs may be designed primarily for military use, but 90 per cent of Indian airspace is civilian, and restricting UAVs to military airspace could be impractical.

Aeronautical Development Establishment organized its first international conference on autonomous unmanned vehicles in 2009 (ICAUV), and again in 2011. This has been the only government organized event in India till date exclusively on unmanned systems. Unmanned Systems Association of India (USAI) has been recently formed and is completely dedicated towards all the activities and regulations pertaining to the unmanned systems industry in India.

Presently all UAV flying is done with permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Ministry of Defence (MoD). This has been done since all the official UAV flying has been by the military and government agencies. Integrating the UAVs into civilian air space is a challenging job. Suggestions are invited to create a regulated policy for unmanned aviation and unmanned systems in India. Please contact us or become a member of USAI and join us in lobbying for regulated UAV operations in India.


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