Young Professional in the Ministry of Civil Aviation

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Subhasish Nath

Interview

A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL AT THE MCA WITH A KEEN INTEREST IN AEROSPACE AND AIRCRAFT ENGINES

Drone Rules 2021 based on Trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring

Drone Rules 2021 is based on Trust, selfcertification and non-intrusive monitoring.

Subhasish Nath is currently working as Young Professional in the Ministry of Civil Aviation for one of the emerging technologies namely Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or drones and the development of the drone ecosystem in India. He began his career at DRDO – Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore wherein he got interested in aerospace and aircraft engines. He has worked for Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) engine and failure analysis of various engine components.

Tell us about your role as a young professional at the Ministry of Civil Aviation?

As a young professional, I have been given the opportunity to manage the drone ecosystem of India and ensure the rapid and smooth functioning of the regulatory process. I am involved in research and analysis on policy, procedures, industry matters and assisting stakeholders in Government, industry and academia for information, clarification and approvals related to drones. I have collaborated and assisted all States, Union Territories and other organizations in demarcating zones in the airspace map of the digital sky platform.

How does geospatial technology play a vital role in the functioning of drones?

Geospatial technology helps the drone to be become autonomous and obtain information about the earth’s surface which is used for further analysis and visualization. This helps the drone to offer tremendous benefits in agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, mapping, defense, and law enforcement to name a few. The emergence of geospatial technologies and drones in the field of defense is expected to enhance the efficiency of the intelligence bodies and boost the capabilities of the armed forces over the years. 

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How are drones going to be a game-changer when it comes to our Defense sector and what kind of technology will power these drones? Drones have to ability to do numerous kinds of work and in all sectors. As we all know about the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh wherein Azerbaijan relied heavily on drones which gave an advantage over the armoured vehicles and tanks. The victory of Azerbaijan was only due to the use of drones and this shows the huge ability of drones. The technology that will power these drones are artificial intelligence and machine learning which will use data from sensors attached to the drone to collect and implement visual and environmental data. This data enables the analysis and recording of information on the ground and helps in autonomous or assisted flight, making operation easier, and increasing accessibility for surveillance in difficult terrains. Also, the carriage of payloads through drones in hilly areas will become cost-effective. As a result, drones have become part of the smart mobility offerings that are now commercially available. Since drones are in the market, what will be the procedure for a startup to manufacture drones for the country? Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified Drone Rules, 2021 on 25 Aug 2021 after which to give a boost to the drones and drone manufacturing industry in India, Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme was released on 15 Sep 2021 which amounts to INR 120 crore spread over three financial years. This amount is nearly double the combined turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in FY 2020-21. The Drone Rules, 2021 is built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring. These rules have abolished several approvals and reduced the number of forms from 25 to 5 and types of fees from 72 to 4. For manufacturing drones in India, no procedures have been specified in the Drone Rules, 2021. However, it is mandatory for each drone to have a type certification, unique identification number (UIN) and remote pilot license for operating it. What are the challenges that drones face in difficult terrains and bad weather conditions? What steps is the government taking to eliminate the challenges? The difficulties that are faced by drones are related to battery management, logistics, meteorological conditions, visibility, etc. Flying during rainfall can cause equipment to be destroyed because most drones are not waterproof. Rainwater, even in light rainfall conditions, can come in contact with batteries and motors which can cause breakdowns in electronic systems. Rain can reduce the contrast required for the camera to discern movement for drones that use cameras for stability and navigation. Each drone has its own wind tolerance limit. Flying outside the tolerance limits can cause navigational problems as the equipment may not have the strength to overcome wind resistance. Fog can prevent the remote pilot from maintaining direct eye contact with the drone during a visual line of sight (VLOS) operation. These challenges depend on the weather conditions and the location where the drone operation is to be carried out. Research and development on drones will help in increasing the capability of the drone and eliminating the challenges.