The Centre banned the import of drones with some exceptions in India. The import of drone components, however, has not been restricted by the government as it seeks to boost domestic manufacturing of drones.

What imports are being banned?

  1. The import of any drones either in completely built up (CBU), completely knocked down (CKD) /semi knocked down (SKD) forms have been banned, with the exception of drones imported “for the purposes of defence, security and research and development”.
  2. Anyone looking to import drones under the exemptions will be required to obtain clearances.
  3. The move is aimed at giving a boost to domestic manufacturing of drones which is seen as a sector that is set to witness rapid growth this decade.
  4. India’s drone market is estimated to account for about 4.25 per cent of the global drone market worth about $28.5 billion in FY22.
  5. Government entities, educational institutions and government recognised R&D entities will be allowed to import drones in CBU, SKD and CKD form after they acquire import authorisation from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade which would be provided after consultation with the relevant ministry.
  6. Drone manufacturers seeking to import drones for R&D will also be able to import drones through this route
  7. The Centre has, however, clarified that the ban does not apply to the import of drone components. The government has noted that the ban is in line with government efforts to boost domestic manufacturing of drones.

Flashback

  1. The new Drone Rules, 2021 notified in August 2021 have reduced both compliances and fees required to operate drones.
  2. The civil aviation ministry also launched an airspace map of India on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) digital sky platform which demarcates the areas where drones can be used without permission and areas in which drone operators cannot operate drones without obtaining prior permission from government authorities.