Even as commercial drones are waiting in the wings to take off, foreign majors are eyeing big opportunities in the sector in India.
Skylock of Israel has started scouting for deals in the fledgling sector and is exploring the sale of its systems for securing civilian airports, sources told IANS.
“The Israeli anti-drone system specialist Skylock is looking at opportunities in India. The firm is keen to sell its systems for securing Indian airports from unauthorised drones,” said an industry source.
Given its usefulness in fields like photography, agriculture, logistics and infrastructure, the government has proposed to allow remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), or drones, for commercial purposes. It has already come out with a drone policy but the regulations to allow private firms to use drones for commercial purposes are yet to be operationalised.
Domain experts said that drones being low-flying objects are certainly a safety risk but their use is unavoidable given the RPAs’ enormous range of applications.
“There are some safety risks involved (with flying drones), but that can be managed as new guidelines are being put in place. These are evolving things. As and when new technologies come, inherent limitations and risks are part of it, but over a period of time those risks are overcome,” said V. Somasundaram, former Member (Air Navigation Services) of Airports Authority of India (AAI).
While strictly regulated use of drones could augur well for the industry, these may pose serious risks to safe flight operations if loopholes are not plugged. Safety issues have emerged across the world as reflected in the way governments have been notifying no-flying zones for drones.
Indian regulations have also specified no-flying zones for drones. For example, Vijay Chowk in New Delhi is a no-drone zone since the area houses important government establishments.
“Drones are hard objects and pose serious threat not only to airport security but also safe flight operations. There have already been instances of suspicious drone-sighting around the airports. Use of drones need to be regulated firmly for safe Indian skies,” said Captain P.P. Singh, Senior Vice President at grounded Jet Airways.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had last year issued the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for civil use of drones. It has classified drones into 5 categories by weight – nano, micro, small, medium and large.
Except for nano drones (250 gms), all the other types need to be registered before they can be flown.