Indian Government Plans to Use Drones for Transporting Organs, Medical Supplies

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India could soon see the use of a drone for transporting organs and any other emergency medical supplies between different hospital under the new policy for aircraft that are being piloted remotely, the official registration process for this began on Friday.

Speaking to reporters, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said the government is examining the possibility of creating ‘drone ports‘ in hospitals to allow this kind of transportation.

“Following the registration which will begin December 1, the required licenses will be issued from a month later to give drones legal status on India. We are working on the necessary steps of our drone policy where we are looking at allowing flying of drones beyond the line of sight in some areas,” Sinha said. The Minister also said the central area of consideration is the creation of drone corridors between hospitals.

“Under the Drone Policy 2.0, drones ports in hospitals can allow the transportation of harvested organs to recipients or the next generation of policy that was announced recently,” Sinha added. “The draft civil aviation prerequisite for Drone Policy 2.0 will be issued for consultation on January 15 at a global aviation summit which India is hosting in Mumbai,” he added.

Sinha also added that significant changes are being regarded in the next phase of the drone policy such as letting a single pilot operate many drones for consignment delivery in some areas. The government in August made know to the public about policy and guidelines for drones that are designed to open up a window of opportunities in the Indian civil aviation sector.

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While unveiling the Drone Regulations 1.0, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that these regulations would help to keep technology and innovation in the development of drones which have an extended range of applications ranging from aerial surveys, disaster relief and in agriculture to precision logistics. The Drone Regulations 1.0 have been formulated as an “all-digital process” with a ‘Digital Sky‘ platform to put in place a system that is entirely online.

“The First national unmanned traffic management platform will be the ‘Digital Sky’, and it will carry out the ‘no permission, no takeoff’ for remotely piloted aircraft,” Sinha said. Users will be asked to make a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners on the platform, which will allow for the online filing of a drone’s specific flight path and its use.

The regulations are intended to allow visual line-of-sight, daytime only and a maximum of 400 feet altitude operations. The regulations list different categories of drones, and all of these except the ‘Nano‘ type weighing less than 250 gram and those that are owned by the government and the intelligence community, are to be recorded and issued with a ‘Unique Identification Number’ (UIN).

And as per the regulations, “for flying in controlled airspace, the filing of a flight plan and obtaining Air Defense Clearance/Flight Information Centre number shall also be necessary.” These define the “no-drone zones” around airports, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, state Secretariat complexes in state capitals, strategic locations, near international borders, and even vital military installations, among others.

The FAQs that was released by the Ministry specify that the delivery of items using drones is ‘not allowed as of now.‘ however, government agencies can use drones to make deliveries. Minimum training requirements of drone pilots and the manufacturing standards have also been specified in the regulations.

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