In a first from the Indian aviation regulator DGCA, Google-backed Dunzo and Bangalore-based aerospace startup Throttle have received approval to conduct pilots for long-range drone flights. The approval, though not formally announced yet, came into light via a report from the Economic Times.
According to the report, consortiums was formed by both Dunzo and Throttle respectively, to approach the directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — India’s civil aviation watchdog. And this said consortium has received approval to conduct experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft, or drones.
A final approval however, is still awaited. According to a government official privy to the matter, “They need another Ministry of Civil Aviation approval, which may take about 7-10 days since it needs to be approved at the level of the Minister,” the official added.”
This approval is a first from India. The aim is to use this experimental drone flight pilot to frame regulations and policies around Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) category of unmanned vehicles, primarily drones.
Throttle Aerospace Systems founder and director Nagendran Kandasamy told ET that the company was looking to build drone solutions for medical supply and organ transportation. The company’s soon-to-kick-off experiment too would test for use cases in the medicine delivery space.
India has moved rather swiftly when it comes to drones and regulations, even in comparison to western countries. Asia’s third-largest economy recently became among the first countries globally, to create an official database of all drones within the country. DGCA had recently invited all drone owners to voluntary register their drones with the watchdog. All such voluntary registrations will get some level of policy relaxation. Post deadline, all drones sold within the country can not be sold without obtaining the government registration number.
Apart from this, just days ago, DGCA also opened up the first six ‘green zones’ within which drone flights will be allowed to take place. Zones of five kilometre radius have been notified in states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, after the DGCA received approvals from security agencies.
The ET report further mentioned, that five more consortiums, along the lines of Dunzo and Throttle are expected to receive similar approvals. However the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and the travel restrictions put henceforth, have resulted in a delay.