Do we need a Drone Pilot license to fly a DJI Phantom or Mavic in India as per policy?

The new policy by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regulates the flying of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in India under certain sets of restrictions.

Drones have wide range of commercial applications in the fields of defence, agriculture, film, infrastructure, and more. Drones can have various sizes. DGCA has categorized them in accordance with Maximum All-Up-Weight (including payload) as:

  1. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
  2. Micro: Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.
  3. Small: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.
  4. Medium: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.
  5. Large: Greater than 150 kg.  

Except for Nano drones, all other categories will require a unique identification number (UIN) to operate.

Unmanned aircraft operator permit (UAOP) the drone license will be required for drone operations. However, in the following cases UAOP will not be required:

 a) Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) Above Ground Level (AGL) in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises.

b) Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises. However, the user shall intimate to local police office 24 hours prior to conduct of actual operations.

c) RPA owned and operated by the agencies such as the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), Aviation Research Center and Central Intelligence Agencies. However, the agency shall intimate local police office and concerned ATS Units prior to the conduct of actual operations.

All the drones above 2kg i.e. above the micro category will need UAOP to operate.

The weight of a DJI phantom is about 1.4 kg and the Mavic weighs about 750g. They will require a UIN to operate. But UAOP i.e. the drone license will only be required if the operation has to be done above 60 m AGL in uncontrolled airspace or in controlled airspace. The operator will still have to inform the local police 24 hours prior to the actual operation.