Saturday, October 11, 2014

EXCLUSIVE! DGCA Wakes Up to Drones as Draft Lies Untouched

Neelam Mathews
Oct 11, 2014

We’re a strange complicated bunch. We tolerate matters that affect our own security without as much a whimper. We either have a death wish or believe –somewhat rightly- that the Gods are watching over us. They must be. The way we are flouting use of civil drones not allowed over our airspace, is cause for serious concern.
DGCA in all its wisdom has woken up as usual too late with typically, a public notice with no teeth. ICAO has “yet to publish Standards and Recommended Practices as far as certification and operation of civil use of UAS is concerned,” says DGCA covering its back. It recognizes “due to lack of regulation, operating procedures/standards, and uncertainty of the technology, UAS poses threat for air collisions and accidents.” So, why not dear regulator, put some procedures in place? We at AerospaceDiary learn, this was proposed by the then DGCA Naseem Zaidi. What happened dear august body after he left? Best to let sleeping lie?
Meanwhile, the situation is dire. We are hearing major Indian TV channels own their drones that give their target audience a special ‘Drone View’ they proudly flash on their screens during a public rally including those of the Prime Minister! Really, are we that stupid not to recognize the perils or just plain greedy/ callous for ratings? It doesn’t need rocket science to see what a tragedy this could result in since payloads are not checked nor authenticated. Time also to check how these drones are sold openly on the internet by Indian companies and representatives of foreign OEMs.
As for the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos talking of trials of drone deliveries in our two most important cities- aerospace center, Bangalore and India's commercial capital, Mumbai- all I can say is Haha. Well said Mr CEO. You might have liked to check India’s rules do not even allow hot air advertising balloons over rooftops without a list of permissions. This special treatment for India is even as you await the US to permit you to start  drone deliveries. You will recall the deadline for late 2015, is on hold? Or is it, that we make good guinea pigs- from no fault of any other but our own?
I’m not putting a spoke in any wheel. Just asking for some sane practical regulations fast so that we can be in tune with the future that is NOW. Let’s be practical, keeping serious security issues in mind.

 I’m hearing the Aviation Conclave in December in Pragati Maidan has taken a lead to discuss this. Well done! One hopes some recommendations that will come out of this will be heard not only in India but on the world stage.


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