DGCA may soon liberalise criteria for drone pilot training

Bengaluru: India will soon allow airlines, state and central government agencies, universities and drone manufacturers to train pilots to fly remotely-operated aircraft, in a move that is expected to aid in the massive adoption of drones in the country.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has, in an as-yet unreleased draft guideline that ET has seen, liberalised the criteria for organisations that can train drone pilots. Current guidelines only allow flight training organisations, or FTOs, to undertake training and certification of drone pilots in India. Only 34 agencies conduct such training as of now.

The new guidelines for Remote Pilot Training Organization will be notified in the coming weeks and will also apply to charter plane and aircraft maintenance providers. It broadens the ambit of who can train drone pilots, while also setting the eligibility criteria for organisations, institutes and departments to become trainers. The draft also specifies technical requirements needed for a noobjection certificate from the DGCA. “The much-liberalised Draft CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement), which allows thousands of places to be designated as drone schools, has been shared with the group informally for feedback. Draft CAR will be released formally for public consultation soon,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

A group of approved FTOs had met with officials from the DGCA, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation last week to review the new guidelines prior to their public release, a person aware of the meeting told ET. Senior officials from the DGCA, AAI and civil aviation ministry did not return requests seeking comment.

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