Govt permits ICRISAT to use drones for agricultural research activities

Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted a conditional exemption to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics(ICRISAT), Hyderabad, Telangana for the deployment of drones for agricultural research activities

New Delhi: The Hyderabad based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has received a conditional exemption from Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the deployment of drones for agricultural research activities.
Sharing details, Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “Drones are poised to play a big role in the agriculture sector in India especially in areas like precision agriculture, locust control and improvement in crop yield.  The Government is encouraging young entrepreneurs and researchers to look at ruggedized low-cost drone solutions for the over 6.6 lakh villages in India.”
The conditional exemption is valid for 6 months from the date of issue of the letter or until the full operationalization of Digital Sky Platform (Phase-1), whichever is earlier. This exemption shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations as stated below are strictly adhered to. In case of violation of any condition, this exemption shall become null and void.
Conditions and limitations to ICRISAT for Data Acquisition for agricultural research activities within the ICRISAT research field using Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems are as below:
  1. This exemption to ICRISAT from the relevant provisions of CAR Section 3, Series X, Part I (i.e. 5.2 (b), 5.3, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 7.1. 7.3, 9.2, 9.3, 11.1 (d), 11.2 (a), 12.4), is subject to exemption from Rule 15A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 by Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  2. ICRISAT 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) prior to operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
  3. ICRISAT shall only operate the RPAS which has been voluntarily disclosed to Government of India and issued with a valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) (i.e. D1DAOOT2C for QUADICRISAT2019).
  4. ICRISAT shall submit a comprehensive brief on the scope of operations and the copy of SOP to Flight Standards Directorate (FSD), DGCA. Operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) shall be carried out only after the vetting/ approval of SOP.
  5. 5. ICRISAT shall take necessary permission regarding Aerial Photography from Directorate of Regulations & Information, DGCA.
  6. The photographs/video-graphs, if taken through RPAS shall be used by ICRISAT only. ICRISAT shall be responsible for security of RPAS and data collected through RPAS.
  7. The operation of RPAS shall be restricted to day operations (from sunrise to Sunset), within Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS).
  8. ICRISAT shall indemnify DGCA from any legal cases or any other issues arising due to these operations.
  9. ICRISAT shall ensure that the RPAS is in working condition and shall be responsible for any eventualities due to malfunction I disorientation of equipment.
  10. In case of any injury to any person due to physical contact with the equipment, ICRISAT shall be responsible for medico-legal issues.
  11. ICRISAT shall have adequate level of insurance to cover any damage to third party resulting from accident I incident occurred during the operation of RPAS.
  12. ICRISAT shall ensure that hazardous material or variable payload are not carried in using the RPA under any circumstances.
  13. ICRISAT shall ensure safety, security and privacy of public, property, operator etc. Further, in case of any eventuality, DGCA shall not be held responsible.
  14. ICRISAT shall not operate the RPAS in 10-fly zones specified in Para 13.1 of the CAR Section 3, Series X, Part I without the approval of concerned Ministries/ authorities.
  15. RPAS shall not be operated in the vicinity of airport as per the provisions of the CAR. If operated near the airport, approval fror1 Airports Authority of India (AAI) shall be taken in advance regarding time and area of operations of RPAS.
  16. ICRISAT shall ensure that only trained I experienced bona fide personnel operates the RPAS.
  17. This letter shall not override other restrictions I SOP on Remotely Piloted Aircraft System framed by other Government Agencies
  18. In case of incident/accident during at any phase of the operations, reports to be submitted to Air Safety Directorate of DGCA.