In a first, the Civil Aviation Ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted one-year conditional permission to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct trial delivery of Covid-19 vaccine using drones.
Getting an exemption from aviation rules that restrict the use of drones for payload delivery, ICMR will be conducting feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
The Civil Aviation Ministry in a released statement mentioned,” These exemptions shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations as stated for the respective entities are strictly adhered to. In case of violation of any condition, the exemption shall become null, and void and action may be initiated by MoCA & DGCA.”
Furthermore, conditional drone use exemption has also been permitted to “Nagar Nigam” (city municipalities) of four cities – Dehradun, Haldwani, Haridwar and Rudrapur – for preparation of geographic based property database and electronic tax register.
Similar permission has been granted to two divisions of Indian Railways – West Central Railway (WCR) based in Kota and (WCR) Katni to use drones for mapping “train accident site” and “maintaining safety and security of the railway assets”.
In addition to these, Vedanta Ltd (Cairn Oil & Gas) also got the permission for conditional drone usage for data acquisition for asset inspecting and mapping till April, 2022.
As per Unmanned Aircraft System rules in the country, drones can be used within specific visual range, and entities have to seek special permission from the Civil Aviation Ministry for conducting or operating trials beyond the visual line of sight.