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My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

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India’s Biggest Drone Festival Inaugurated

On Friday May 27 this year Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Bharat Drone Mahotsav at, a two-day event held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. At this event, Prime Minister Modi had the opportunity to interact with kisan drone pilots and witnessed open-air drone demonstrations in the drone exhibition centre. The Bharat Drone Mahotsav was attended by more than 1,600 delegates that consisted of government officials, foreign diplomats, representatives of the Indian Armed Forces, central armed police forces, PSUs, private companies and drone start-ups. More than 70 exhibitors displayed various uses of drones at the exhibition. The event also witnessed a virtual award of drone pilot certificates, product launches, panel discussions, flying demonstrations, display of a ‘Made in India’ Drone Taxi prototype, among others.

Issue: 06-2022By Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd)Photo(s): By PIB


A “drone” is essentially an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that, as the very name suggests, does not carry a pilot on board to fly it. Instead, it is operated remotely by a trained person on the ground who may be located even hundreds of miles away and need not be a pilot by profession. However, there are platforms in this category today that do not even require an operator on the ground to control the platform and are appropriately classified as “autonomous drones”. Unmanned platforms have been in use since the mid 1800s and when this vehicle first made its appearance on the market, it was primarily the military that understood the potential of this platform as well as its possible range of military applications. Thus it was the military that championed its growth and development across the world over the years. In fact, since the inception of drones, it has been the wars fought across the globe have been responsible to a great extent to spur the growth and development of technologies in the domain of drones. The United States (US) military began exploring drone technology to build aerial targets for training. Today, drones are employed in both military and civil domains in a variety of tasks such as delivery of small size cargo, monitoring of infrastructure, mapping, spraying of chemicals in the agricultural segment, security surveillance, reconnaissance and emergency response.

After more than 150 years of research and development in drone technology as well as its employment in the military domain, use of drones in the civil segment commenced in reality only in 2006 and it was in this particular year that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the civil aviation regulatory authority of the US, granted a commercial drone permit to an American agency for the first time. However, despite the major advancements in technology and reforms in the regulatory domain, it was only after another ten years before the drone industry in the commercial segment actually took off. Soon after commissioning of drone technology in the civil domain, agencies of governments commenced efforts to adopt this technology for disaster relief operations as well as for surveillance of border areas, while the agencies in the civil domain initiated the use of this new technology for applications for a number of tasks which included inspection of oil and gas pipelines, evaluation of agricultural output as well as for applications in the regime of security. Globally, the drone industry has a bright future as the employment of these platforms into many more areas of operations will boost the industry.

While the drone industry in India still appears to be in a fledgling state, the future looks highly promising. Estimates are that the drone service market in India is expected to grow threefold. Earlier this year, the Government imposed a ban on the import in the civil segment with the aim of giving a fillip to the Indian drone industry which is in a fledgling state. On February 11, 2022, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) removed the requirement of a drone pilot licence for operating drones in the country. A Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) issued by a DGCAapproved drone school will suffice. However, for operating drones for non-commercial purposes and with weight up to two kilograms, even the RPC is not required.

Some of the steps taken in the recent past by the Government pertaining to this segment of the civil aviation industry in India particularly to ease regulatory provisions, is a clear indication that a new chapter is being opened to promote the indigenous design, development and production of drones for use in a variety of roles in the civil domain in the country. It was with the pursuit of this objective that the Bharat Drone Mahotsav, a two-day event held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, was organised for the first time in the history of the civil aviation industry in India. The importance the government gives to this new segment of the Indian civil aviation industry should be evident from the fact that the event was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. During the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried his hand at flying a drone after he inaugurated the event. In his inaugural address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the promotion of drone technology is another medium of advancing of the commitment by the Government of India to good governance and ease of living. He also went on to say that in the future, the drone will be a “game changer” for the nation particularly in the sectors dealing with health and agriculture.