February 10, 2022 - 9:50 am

India Bans Import Of Drones Except For Some Restrictiction

The government has banned import of foreign manufactured drones except for those required for defence, security and R&D purposes. The decision has been taken with a view to promote local manufacturing under Make in India scheme. Import of drone components however will be permitted as earlier and will not require any approvals. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade issued a notification in this regard on Wednesday and the rule will come in immediate effect. The import of drones under the three exceptions will be permitted only after taking required permissions and clearances. The notification comes days after the ministry of civil aviation issued the drone certification scheme on January 25 to stipulate minimum safety and quality requirements to boost indigenous manufacturing. According to the aviation ministry, the certification scheme will help in simpler, faster and transparent type-certification of drones.

The government has taken a series of steps to boost domestic manufacturing of drones and drone components including announcing a Rs 120-crore Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and liberalising drone operation rules. Import policy for drones in CBU (Completely Built Up) /CKD (Completely Knocked Down)/SKD (Semi Knocked Down ) form… is prohibited with exceptions provided for R&D, defence and security purposes. Even the import of drones for these purposes will require government clearances.

The new Drone Rules, 2021 reduced compliances and fees required to be paid to operate drones. The Civil Aviation Ministry also launched an airspace map of India, demarcating areas where drones can be used without permission and areas in which drones cannot be operated without obtaining prior permission from authorities.

Last September, the Union Cabinet cleared a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to make India a drone hub by 2030. The PLI scheme provides up to 20 per cent incentive to manufacturers of drones and drone components. It came close on the heels of the recent liberalisation of rules, which has made owning and operating drones easier. The government allocated Rs 120 crore for the scheme and it will be spread over three years. This amount is nearly double the combined turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in FY21, the ministry of civil aviation had said in a press release.

The domestic drone manufacturing industry was expected to grow from a combined turnover of about Rs800 million to Rs9 billion in three years. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the civil aviation minister, had said the combined turnover of the industry could grow to nearly Rs150 billion by 2026. India aims to emerge as a global drone hub by 2030. Last month, the civil aviation ministry had notified the drone certification scheme with minimum safety and quality requirements to boost domestic production.