Hyderabad: The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on 7 May granted conditional exemption to the government of Telangana to conduct experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights to deliver vaccines.
Exemption from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2021 has been granted as part of the Central government's constant endeavour to enhance the scope of drone usage in the country and assist the nation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, the Telangana government was granted conditional exemption for conducting experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccines within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) Range using drones. To accelerate the drone deployment process to formulate application-based models, the grant has been extended to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). The trial is likely to commence by May end.
Earlier this month, 20 consortia were also granted permission to conduct BVLOS experimental flights of drones. BVLOS trials will help create the regulatory framework for drone deliveries and other major applications. Conditions for conducting experimental BVLOS drone flights in TS
The exemption granted to Telangana is subject to the complete adherence to certain conditions and the directions and exemptions issued by the MoCA.
Before the commencement of BVLOS trial flights, each consortium shall develop and submit certain documents for DGCA approval, including standard operating procedures for BVLOS operations and SOP for coordinating with air traffic control and Indian Air Force in normal situations and contingencies such as command and control (C2) lost-link.
Security clearance of personnel and entities involved (other than government entities) shall be obtained from the ministry of Home Affairs. The guidelines also state that the maximum permitted height for drone operations is 400 feet above ground level. Also, energy reserve of 15% of flight time should be provisioned for.
Before the commencement of BVLOS trial flights, each consortium should conduct a hazard identification and risk management (HIRM) workshop involving all stakeholders. Drone pilots should hold a valid certificate of training and have sufficient experience in drone operations. A safe VLOS record of the drone operator and the remote pilot are mandatory requirements.
Before commencement of the trials, clearance from IAF and local administration should be obtained. The government of Telangana shall post a Single Point Coordinator (SPC) at Shamshabad ATC for the entire duration of the trial flights to ensure smooth coordination with ATC. A flight plan should be filed for each trial BVLOS flight with Shamshabad ATC and Flight Information Centre (FIC) number and Air Defence Clearance (ADC) number should be obtained.
Also, the Telangana government shall initiate a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) in coordination with the General Manager (ATM), AAI, Shamshabad.