A remote pilot is a person charged by the operator with duties essential to the operation of a remotely piloted aircraft (drone) and who manipulates the flight controls, as appropriate, during flight time.
Because remote pilots carry out the responsibilities for the different phases of the flight, such as takeoff, climb, cruise, approach, and landing, they are required to receive medical certification, complete training, and demonstrate competency in many countries before being licensed to fly.
They should know aviation rules, regulations, and procedures based on the drone type, size, or operational environment.
This post will discuss the key guidelines for remote pilots in India, which take massive strides towards becoming a pioneer in drone operations and use in a safe, commercially savvy manner.
1. The remote pilot should have attained 18 years of age. In addition, the pilot should have passed at least the 10th exam in English.
2. A remote pilot should either obtain security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or submit self-attested copies of at least two out of three valid identity proofs: Passport, Driving License, or Aadhar Card.
3. In the case of foreign remote pilots employed by an Indian entity, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shall forward documents for Security clearance to security agencies in accordance with the procedure being followed for Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorization (FATA) pilots.
4. Remote Pilot training is not applicable for Nano and Micro category RPA pilots intending to operate in uncontrolled airspace. However, the owner and user should be fully aware of responsibilities for all aspects of flight safety during such operations.
5. The remote pilot should have undergone ground/ practical training at any DGCA approved Flying Training Organization (FTO).
6. The theory subjects should have the following topics:
- Basic Radio Telephony (RT) techniques, including knowledge of radio frequencies.
- Flight Planning and ATC procedures.
- Regulations specific to the area of operations.
- Basic knowledge of principles of flight and aerodynamics for fixed wing, rotary wing, and hybrid aircraft.
- Airspace Structure and Airspace Restrictions with knowledge of No Drone Zones
- Basic Aviation Meteorology.
7. The practical training should comprise RPA in flight having live component and/ or simulated flight training to demonstrate control of RPA throughout its operating conditions, including safe recovery during emergencies and system malfunction.
8. Details of DGCA approved Flying Training Organisations (FTO) available on the DGCA website. In addition, a list of FTOs conducting remote pilot training will be available on the Digital sky Platform.
9. The training records should be maintained by FTOs that are imparting the training.
10. Copy of training records and Remote Pilot logbook should be maintained and available with the remote pilot.
11. The remote pilot should ensure he has the necessary permission(s)/ clearance(s). He should carry out a pre-flight inspection. He should not fly the RPA unless he/she is reasonably satisfied that all the control systems of RPA, including the radio and Command & Control link, are in working condition before the flight.
12. Remote pilot should be equipped with communication facilities to establish two-way communication with the concerned ATS unit. He should establish and maintain contact with ATC before entering the controlled airspace.
13. Remote pilots should know that no Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is caused to air traffic operations and air navigation equipment.
14. The remote pilot should ensure that the privacy norms of any entity are not compromised in any manner.
Here are some operational tips to ensure that you have a better and safer flying experience.
- You should ensure your drone is Digital Sky “No Permission- No Takeoff” (NPNT) Compliant
- You must get a Unique Identification Number (UIN) from DGCA for operating in controlled airspace and affix it to your drone
- You should obtain an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), if applicable, from DGCA for commercial operations and keep it handy
- Also, obtain permission before each flight through Digital Sky Platform
- You should ensure the drone is in good condition (not damaged) and fit for flying safely.
- You must keep an eye on interference: Interference can be from mobile devices or blockage of signals, do watch out when flying your drone.
- You should fly only during daylight (after sunrise to before sunset)
- You should fly in good weather: Good weather lets you not only fly your drone better but also keep track of it in the air.
- You should fly in visual line of sight (VLOS): Always be within the visual range of your drone.
- You should do your homework before spending considerable money on a drone. Make sure you clearly understand all operational and regulatory aspects.
- Be aware of Airspace Restrictions/ No Drone Zones
- Do stay away from airports and heliports
- You should respect the privacy of people
- You should keep local police informed about your drone flying activity. If you are ever approached by police, provide all requisite information.
- Do log your flights and intimately concerned authorities (like DGCA, local police, etc.) of any incidents/ accidents
- You should not fly a Nano drone above 50ft (15m) from the ground level
- You should not fly a Micro drone above 200ft (60m) from the ground level
- You should not fly drones more than 400ft (120m) from the ground level
- You should not fly a drone near other aircraft (manned or unmanned)
- You should not fly a drone near airports and heliports
- You should not fly a drone over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people without permission
- You should not fly a drone over government facilities/military bases or over/ near any no-drone zones.
- You should not fly a drone over private property unless permission is given.
- You should not fly a drone in controlled airspace near airports without filing a flight plan or AAI/ADC permission (at least 24 hours before actual operation).
- You should not drop or carry hazardous material
- You should not fly a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- You should not fly a drone from a moving vehicle, ship, or aircraft