Event Report On “Civil Operations of Drones in India’s National Air Space”

Event Report


“Civil Operations of Drones in India’s National Air Space”

Wednesday, 29 July 2020; 11:00 to 13:00 Hrs

Dr Shailesh Nayak, Dir NIAS welcomed the panellists and participants to the webinar, saying that it is a discussion on a very important topic. He mentioned about the proliferation of Drones, due to the ease of operations, from Military to Civil applications like scientific experiments, crowd management, in the field of agriculture and for Geological and Archaeological survey. He stated that there is great potential for the deployment of drones for transportation of time-critical organs for transplant and medical supplies and, also for door-step delivery by e-retail suppliers.

He requested the experts to address the factors required to put a proper system in place so that the excellent track record of Civil Aircraft operations can be replicated in Drone operations in Inia’s National Air Space

Mr. AK Meena, Executive Director (Air Space Management), Airports Authority of India, in his special remarks, explained that AAI is part of Drone Operations at many levels for Military & Civil applications. He mentioned about the deployment of Drones in some parts of during the recent Locust attack.

He stated that management of Air Space among Military, Civil, Space and other stakeholders is a challenging task and mentioned about the CAR 1.0 regulations 1.0 by DGCA and the formulation of Digital Sky Platform to enable operations of Drones. He said that AAI is geared up for further challenges to integrate Drones common air space. There is a bright future for Drone operations in spite of all challenges.

Prof. Srikumar Pullat brought out some of the issues and challenges involved in ensuring Safety and Security of Citizens and Public and Private property when multiple operators and a large number of drones are deployed in the National Air Space. He stressed the need for proper planning and implementation of each of the BVLOS flight experiments to achieve initial accommodation, and later integration of Drones in National Air Space can be achieved seamlessly.

He also brought out the need for strict and comprehensive implementation of all Rules and Regulations so the existing track record of civil aircraft operation in India is continued, and further, to ensure that the chaos of India’s road transport system does not extend to the skies.

He suggested allocation of sectors of altitude for critical point-to-point operations for medical emergencies and the concept of aerial Roads, Lanes, Intersections and Signals for commercial operations.

Dr. Kota Harinarayana, former Programme Director (LCA-‘Tejas’) and Founder of General Aeronautics Pvt. Ltd., stressed the need for enabling the growth of Drone industry in India. Explained that the Indian private industry is capable of handling the stringent airworthiness requirements. He brought out the importance of identifying, managing and reducing risks in Technologies, Operating Environment, and Human factors in order to address the Safety, Security and Privacy concerns

He referred to the progress being made in Singapore and other congested urban environments, and the importance of Modeling and Simulation Referred to Modeling and simulation studies being done at NASA, NLR and NTU to standardize the procedures; Emergencies Risk and safety management protocols to be modelled properly

While insisting that concern for Safety should not be a barrier to innovation and growth, he stressed the need to bring about concepts of safe and affordable UAS operations by Manufacturers, Regulatory Boards and Operators. He suggested setting up of a Task team to compare the Drone classifications brought out by CEMILAC and DGCA the need for harmonisation with the latest ICAO guidelines.

Prof. PM Soundar Rajan stressed the importance of Communications in flight operations and evolution of Mission systems, Avionics systems, GCS, Datalink and networked communication systems from early UAVs to current Drones.

Referring to the vulnerability of Datalinks he stressed the need for secure communications using techniques like SSM and reserving the frequency spectrum required for Drone operations

He brought out the requirement for hybrid navigation system by integrating of basic Nav system, GNSS system, Vision-based navigation to ensure separation assurance and collision avoidance for routine ops in non-segregated civil & military airspace

Stressing the need for Situational awareness, he talked about Sense and Avoid solutions acceptable to airworthiness and ops authorities and affordable to industry, Terrain awareness, Weather awareness and Global system awareness. He expressed confidence that the advancement in high-end technologies and shrinking size of electronic systems will enable civil operations of Drones in congested air space.

Mr. D Dilip Kumar, Joint General Manager (ASM), AAI explained the details of the general concepts of ATM to accommodate and handle drone flights. He mentioned the various sections in Civil Aviation Regulations and the classification of UAS, RPA, RPAS and Autonomous drones. He explained the similarities, differences and overlap between ATM and UTM. He discussed the evolution of the current regulatory environment and salient features of documents at various stages leading to FTC 01/2019

He explained the logic for arriving at the minimum onboard equipment as per CAR 1.0, GNSS, AFTS, RH option and the essential equipment for ops in controlled airspace. Classification of Controlled and Uncontrolled Air Space. He stressed the need for coordination and monitoring flights, lateral and vertical separation, IFR and VFR flight rules. He also explained details of various elements of ICAO UTM and ATM architecture and the features of Digital Sky Platform.

Mr. Neel Mehta, Director and Co-Founder, Asteria Aerospace Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore explained the preparations by several Drone consortiums to participate in BVLOS experiments in response to EOI by DGCA in May 2019. He mentioned that his team is gearing up to carry out Sandbox experiments to test out technologies and operational standards for BVLOS operations to firm up regulations. He explained the role of various members of the consortium for various aspects of BVLOS operations.

He explained major features of Asteria’s Drone which comply with CAR 1.0 requirement and stressed the importance of conducting experiments to capture real-world experience to mature to the levels of safety achieved by manned aircraft operations.

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