Bengaluru’s drone companies get first DGCA certification

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India’s civil aviation regulator has certified drones from two Bengaluru-based startups, Skylark Drones and Throttle Aerospace Systems, after they complied with the NP-NT (no permission, no takeoff) protocol under the country’s new drone policy.

This marks the first-ever certifications by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) under the Digital Sky policy, which came into effect on December 1, 2018.

NP-NT is a software layer that allows drones to fly only after they get an automated permission from authorities.

The operators registered on the platform will have to seek a digital permission from the DGCA, and the drones will be able to take off only after receiving the approval.

The two firms got the certifications for their micro-drone models under the visual line of sight (VLOS) category, where the drones have to be within viewing distance of the operator. Around half-a-dozen firms had applied for the certification, but only Skylark and Throttle have got it so far.

Skylark doesn’t plan to manufacture the drones for lay buyers. The company is a service provider and wants to build a marketplace for enterprises to contract drones for activities such as surveillance, geospatial mapping and other applications.

“The certification allows us to become a provider of the NP-NT module and we’re in talks with other drone manufacturers in China and the UK to use our solution to get their drones certified,” said Mrinal Pai, cofounder of Skylark Drones. “They’ll still have to get their drones certified from the DGCA independently, but we can provide them with the NP-NT.”

Throttle Aerospace Systems, on the other hand, plans to manufacture its drones and is already working with clients such as the Ministry of Defence, HAL, Wipro, and the Natural Disaster Response Force, according to its website.

With the way the policy has been structured, the consent system is integral to flying a drone in India.

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