Civil Aviation Ministry grants use of drones for farm data collection

Civil Aviation Ministry grants use of drones for farm data collection
The permission allows drones deployment by the MoAFW for remote sensing data collection in agricultural areas of 100 districts in India for gram panchayat level yield estimation

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted conditional exemption for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) usage to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW), Government of India. The permission allows drones’ deployment by the MoAFW for remote sensing data collection in agricultural areas of 100 districts in India for gram panchayat level yield estimation, under crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

The exemption shall be valid from the one year from the date of issue of the permission letter or until the operationalisation of the Digital Sky Platform, whichever is earlier. However, this exemption shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations are strictly adhered to. In case of violation of any condition, this exemption shall become null and void and action may be initiated as per Para 18 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR)

Conditions and limitations for operating Remotely Piloted Aircraft

  1.  This exemption to Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare from the paragraphs 5.3, 6, 7, 8.4, 9, 11.1 [c, d], 11.2 [a,d], 12.4, 12 .5, 12.18,12.19 and 15.3 of Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) Section 3, Series X, Part I, is subject to exemption from Rule 15A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 by Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  2. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare shall obtain necessary clearances from (a) Local Administration (b) Ministry of Defence (c) Ministry of Home Affairs (d) Air Defence Clearance from Indian Air Force and (e) Airport Authority of India (AAI} [as applicable] prior to operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
  3. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare only operate the RPAS models specified in the approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) reference no. 9119 (PMFBY) ISOP 01 Revision No.O of WRMS, SOP reference no. 9119 (PMFBY) ISOP/01 Revision No.O of Agrotech and SOP reference no. 9119 (PMFBY) SOP/01 Revision No. O of AMNEX . The operations shall be as per the above the above mentioned SOPs. The RPAS have to be voluntarily disclosed to Government of India and issued with a valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) and the fleet details are to be maintained by Ministry of
  4. Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. Any change, amendment or revision in the SOP or model or change in use ‘case shall be included in the SOP and submitted to DGCA for approval.
  5. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare shall ensure that only trained and experienced bona fide personnel operates the RPAS. Further, Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure that remote flight crew are trained through approved FTOs/ RPTOs.
  6. Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure that the RPAS is in working condition as mentioned in the SOP and shall be responsible for any eventualities due to malfunction or disorientation of equipment.
  7. Ministry of Agriculture shall maintain the records of each RPA flight and make such records available to the DGCA on demand.
  8. Ministry of Agriculture shall take necessary permission regarding Aerial Photography from Directorate of Regulations & Information, DGCA or Ministry of Defence (as applicable). The photographs and videos taken through RPAS shall be used by Ministry Agriculture. Ministry of Agriculture shall be responsible for safety and security of RPAS and data collected through RPAS.
  9. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare shall ensure that the RPAS are made NPNT compliant (certified by QCI] as soon as the digital sky platform is made operational.
  10. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare shall ensure that each RPAS has fire resistant identification plate inscribed legibly with OAN, DAN and Model No. of the RPAS.
  11. The operation of RPAS shall be restricted to day operations (from sunrise to sunset), within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) in uncontrolled airspace only and at a maximum height of 200 ft (AGL) only.
  12. RPAS shall not be operated in the vicinity of airport as per the provisions of the CAR. If required to operate near the airport, approval from Airports Authority of India (AAI) shall be taken in advance regarding time and area of operations of RPAS.
  13. Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure their no items are discharged or dropped during flight of the RPAS.
  14. The Ministry of Agriculture shall also ensure that hazardous material or variable payload are not carried in the RPA under any circumstances except allowed pesticides.
  15. Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure that uninvolved persons are not allowed within the operation area during spraying and ensure safety conditions (especially wind conditions) specified in the SOP and in this letter are adhered to.
  16. Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure safety, security and privacy of public, property, operator etc. Further, in case of any eventuality, DGCA shall not be held responsible.
  17. Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure the RPAS is not flown in a manner to cause danger to any person or property. In case of any injury to any person due to physical contact with the equipment, the Ministry shall be responsible for medico-legal issues. The Ministry shall have adequate level of insurance to cover any damage to third party resulting from accident or incident occurred during the operation of RPAS.
  18. Ministry of Agriculture shall not operate the RPAS in no-fly zones specified in Para 13.1 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) Section 3, Series X, Part I without the approval of concerned ministries or authorities.
  19. The Ministry of Agriculture shall indemnify DGCA from any legal cases or any other issues arising due to these operations.
  20. In case of incident or accident during at any phase of the operations, reports to be submitted to Air Safety Directorate of DGCA.
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