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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 21, 19-25 August 2023

Embrace the Career Opportunities in India's Drone Revolution

Ranjana Kumari

Have you ever dreamt of stepping into the world of drones- a realm where promising careers and entrepreneurial ventures await? Your wait is over as India is steadily moving in the direction of becoming the 'Global Drone Hub'. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, while flagging off the "Drone Yatra 2.0" in Chennai announced that India will need about 1 lakh drone pilots by 2023 end, creating employment opportunities worth Rs 6,000 crores annually within the drone industry. It is a vision of growth and potential that holds great promise.

Drones, once seen primarily in military contexts or as a recreational gadget, have evolved into versatile tools for real-world challenges. They're no longer just flying gadgets; they're on a mission to combat diseases, protect marine ecosystems, and facilitate efficient deliveries. It is a remarkable fusion of technology and practicality that is reshaping industries.

Recognised for its technological prowess, India is not merely embracing drone technology-it is leading the charge. From capturing breathtaking visuals to aiding disaster management efforts, drones have become indispensable problem solvers across various fields.

Did you know? India commands a significant share of the global drone market, accounting for 22.5% of all drone imports worldwide. This showcases India's pivotal role in driving drone innovation and adoption. Moreover, the commercial aspect of the drone industry, focusing on applications like delivery services, is rapidly outpacing its military counterparts.

With the renewed focus on 'Aatmanirbharta' industry forecasts predict that India's indigenous drone manufacturing capacity is set to augment from the current Rs. 60-80 crore  to a substantial Rs. 900 crore by the year 2024.

For young aspirants stepping into the world of jobs, the drone industry presents an enticing avenue. It is a realm where innovation merges seamlessly with practical application, offering ample room for professional growth and exploration. If you are intrigued by the convergence of technology, vision, and real-world impact, the world of drones beckons you to embark on a journey of innovation and possibilities.

The demand for certified drone pilots has surged in India, witnessing an incredible increase of approximately 1365 percent in the number of drone pilot licenses since the issuance of the Drone Rules, 2021, and the Drones (Amendment) Rules, 2022. According to Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation Gen. (Dr.) V. K. Singh (Retd), as of 1st July 2023, more than 5000 Remote Pilot Certificates (RPC) were issued through the Digital Sky Platform, opening up numerous opportunities for drone enthusiasts.

Considering this trend, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has established authorised Remote Pilot Training Organizations (RPTO) in various States and Union Territories to provide training for aspiring drone pilots. So, get ready to take flight. The sky is no longer the limit!

Steps to Becoming Flight-Ready: Becoming a certified drone pilot in India requires dedication, proper training, and adherence to DGCA regulations. By following the outlined steps and completing the comprehensive training provided by an authorised RPTO, you will be well-prepared to operate drones safely and responsibly. A career as a drone pilot offers exciting opportunities across various industries and contributes to the advancement of technology and aerial applications in India.

Understand the Requirements and Categories: Before embarking on your journey to become a drone pilot, it is crucial to grasp the requirements set by the DGCA. Two main categories of drone pilots are: Category 1 (Visual Line of Sight - VLOS) and Category 2 (Beyond Visual Line of Sight - BVLOS). VLOS pilots operate drones within their direct line of sight, while BVLOS pilots can operate drones beyond their line of sight with advanced training.

Enroll into a Reputable Remote Pilot Training Organisation (RPTO): An RPTO's primary purpose is to provide Remote Pilot Training to individuals who wish to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate as per Rule 34 of the Drone Rules 2021.  To receive proper training, you must enroll in a DGCA-approved RPTO that will guide you through the required curriculum and practical flight training.

DGCA Approved Syllabus: Ground Class Syllabus: It is designed to provide you with the essential theoretical knowledge necessary for responsible drone operation. Topics covered include:

·         Understanding stakeholders and relevant drone laws

·         Comprehending the Drone Rules 2021 and the aviation law

·         Familiarising yourself with airspace regulations

·         Grasping the basic principles of flight for drones

·         Learning ATC (Air Traffic Control) procedures and Radio Telephony

·         Understanding weather and meteorology's impact on drone flights

·         Mastering Crew Resource Management (CRM)

·         Gaining insight into Instrument Flying Techniques

·         Learning Risk Assessment and Safety Management

·         Exploring Payload Installation and Utilisation

·         Introduction to Drone Data Analysis for data-driven operations

Flying Class Syllabus: It focuses on hands-on experience with drones and practical flight training. Key components of the syllabus include:

·         Flight Simulator Training: Utilise drone simulators to practice various flight scenarios

·         Basic Assembly and Maintenance: Learn to assemble and maintain drones properly

·         Flight Simulator Instrument Flying: Practice instrument flying techniques using simulators

·         Dynamic Payload Ground Handling: Familiarise yourself with handling dynamic payloads on drones

·         Practical Flying with an Instructor and Solo Flying: Gain flight experience with an instructor's guidance and eventually fly solo

Duration: The training duration varies based on the category and complexity of drone operations.

Cat-1 (VLOS): Training typically spans 5 to 8 days, including 2 days of theory and 3 to 6 days of practical training

Cat-2 (BVLOS): The training duration is more extensive, lasting approximately 150 hours, with 106 hours dedicated to theory and 44 hours for practical training

Competency-Based Training and Assessment: The DGCA emphasises competency-based training to ensure a high level of operational capability among drone pilots. This approach focuses on developing competencies through observable behaviors, skills, and attitudes required for safe and efficient drone operation. RPTOs must create training programs that encourage continuous learning and performance improvement.

Crediting of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Theory and Flight Time: If you already have some relevant experience, you might be eligible for credits towards your training. Whether you hold a Cat-1 Remote Pilot License, a Private or Commercial Pilot License, have military flying experience, or work as an aerospace or aeronautical engineer, you could receive some credits towards your certification.

List of DGCA Approved RTPOs (as on 1st August 2023)

S.no

RTPO

Location

1.       

Academy of Carver Aviation Pvt. Ltd.           

Pune ,Maharashtra

2.       

Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU)

Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

3.       

AdiSA Drona Private Limited

Kohlapur, Maharashtra

4.       

Aerophile Academy Private Limited   

Doddaballpur, Karnataka

5.       

Agni Aero Sports Adventure Academy           

Bangalore, Karnataka

6.       

Airbus Group India Private Limited    

Karnataka, Bangalore

7.       

Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solution Pvt. Ltd

Mumbai, Maharashtra

8.       

Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems Private Limited

Kasrgod, Kerala

9.       

Blue Ray Aviation Private Limited

Mehsana, Gujarat

10.   

CASR Anna University

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

11.   

Centurion University of Technology and Management

Paralakhemundi, Odisha

12.   

Clearskies Learning & Research Pvt Ltd

Chikkaballapur, Karnataka

13.   

CSC Academy

Karnal, Haryana

14.   

Drogo Drones Private Limited

Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

15.   

Dronachariya Drone Academy LLP

Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

16.   

Drone Academy Pvt Ltd (Trade Name: India Drone Academy)

Hyderabad, Telangana

17.   

Drone Destination Private Limited

Phulpur, Uttar Pradesh

18.   

Drone Destination Pvt. Ltd.

Punjab

19.   

Drone Destination Pvt. Ltd.

Gurugram, Haryana

20.   

Drone Imaging & Information Services of Haryana Limited

Karnal, Haryana

21.   

Droneacharya Aerial Innovations Pvt. Ltd.

Pune, Maharashtra

22.   

Dronetech Solutions Private Limited

Nallasopara, Maharashtra

23.   

Flapone Aviation Private Limited

Sonipat, Haryana

24.   

Flytech Aviation Academy

Secunderabad, Telangana

25.   

Fore Institute of Drone Technology and Research (FIDTR)

Gurugram, Haryana

26.   

Ganpati Aviation Solutions

Haryana

27.   

Garuda Aerospace Private Limited

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

28.   

Government Aviation Training Institute (M/s Global  Avianautics Ltd.)

Gurugram, Haryana

29.   

Indira Gandhi Rashriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA)

Madurai, Tamil Nadu

30.   

Indira Gandhi Rashriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA)

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

31.   

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi

Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

32.   

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi

Gurugram, Haryana

33.   

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

34.   

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademy (IGRUA)

Bengaluru, Karnataka

35.   

Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademy (IGRUA)

Himachal Pradesh

36.   

Iotechworld Avigation Private Limited

Gurugram, Haryana

37.   

J VE Konnect Private Limited (OPC)

Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra

38.   

Kasegaon Education Societys Rajarambapu Institute of Technology

Sangli Maharashtra

39.   

Kaushalya The Skill University

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

40.   

M/s Assam Electronics Development Corporation Limited

Assam

41.   

M/s Kite Aero Private Limited

Vadodara, Gujarat

42.   

M/s Marut Dronetech Private Limited

Hyderabad, Telangana

43.   

Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth

Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

44.   

Multiplex Drone Private Limited

Bangalore, Karnataka

45.   

Naini Aerospace Limited

Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh

46.   

Neosky India Limited

Kolar, Karnataka

47.   

Pavaman Aviation Private Limited

Hyderabad, Telangana

48.   

PBC's Aero Hub

Pune, Maharashtra

49.   

Phoenix Drone Flying LLP

Gurugram, Haryana

50.   

Pioneer Flying Academy Pvt. Ltd

Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

51.   

Rao Industries

Pune, Maharashtra

52.   

Raxa Security Services Ltd

Andhra Pradesh

53.   

Redbird Flight Training Academy Private Limited

New Delhi

54.   

RRU

Droneacharya Gandhinagar, Gujarat

55.   

Sanskar Dham Campus

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

56.   

Sph Aviation Private Limited

Gurgaon, Haryana

57.   

Telangana State Aviation Academy

Hyderabad, Telangana

58.   

Terna Public Charitable Trust

Osmanabad, Maharashtra

59.   

The Bombay Flying Club

Mumbai, Maharashtra

60.   

Ultimate Energy Resource Private Limited

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

61.   

Wissmo Agventure Private Limited

Jaipur, Rajasthan

62.   

Woahage Aviation Private Limited

Telangana

63.   

Wow Go Green LLP

Gandhinagar, Gujarat

 

Skilling for Roles beyond Drone Piloting

In addition to drone pilot training offered by Remote Pilot Training Organisations (RTPOs), the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is playing a crucial role in enhancing skills within the drone sector. The MSDE has introduced six short-term skilling courses to address the growing demand for skilled personnel in the drone industry. These courses are designed to equip individuals with specialised skills required for various roles in the drone sector. The courses approved by the MSDE and available at various various Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across different states and union territories are:

·         Drone Developer (Software) - Duration: 510 Hours

·         Drone Manufacturing and Assembly Technician - Duration: 390 Hours

·         Drone Monitoring and Maintenance Associate - Duration: 390 Hours

·         Drone Operator- Multi Rotor - Duration: 390 Hours

·         Drone Service Technician - Duration: 400 Hours

·         Kisan Drone Operator - Duration: 390 Hours

Scope for Research and Development: The drone sector stands as a prime example of remarkable innovation and burgeoning startups in recent years. It offers educational courses, academic degrees, and avenues for substantial research and development. Notable academic institutions engaging in drone-related education and research include the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) campuses in Bombay, Kanpur, and Madras, the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) in Pune, the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Hyderabad, and Anna University.

Policy Push for Drone Entrepreneurship: The Government of India is actively pursuing its vision of establishing India as a global drone manufacturing hub, thereby creating a favorable environment for business opportunities in this promising sector. A series of strategic initiatives have been undertaken to facilitate the growth of domestically produced drones, exemplified by the following measures:

·         Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: In September 2021, the government introduced the PLI scheme specifically tailored for drones and their components. This initiative offers a financial incentive of Rs 120 crores distributed over a span of three financial years. Notably, the beneficiaries encompass drone manufacturers as well as manufacturers of drone components.

·         Agricultural Drones Monetary Grant Programme: The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare (MoAFW) announced a monetary grant program in January 2022, aimed at facilitating the acquisition of agricultural drones. This move underlines the government's commitment to harness drone technology for enhancing agricultural practices.

·         Drone Shakti: The Drone Shakti scheme announced in Budget 2022, represents the government's viewpoint on consolidating efforts within the drone ecosystem. Essentially, it involves institutionalising and establishing a framework wherein multiple stakeholders can collaborate. Furthermore, it facilitates cost-effective adoption of drones for customers and offers incentives to manufacturers and service providers to engage in an ongoing cycle of innovation.

·         Import Restrictions: To fortify the domestic drone manufacturing ecosystem, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a notification (No. 54/2015-2020) on 9th February 2022. This notification effectively restricted the import of drones, except for designated purposes such as research and development, defense, and security.

·         Streamlined Business Environment: A pivotal step toward fostering a conducive business environment involves the elimination of import license requirements for drone components. This strategic decision was aimed at enhancing the Ease of Doing Business, thereby bolstering indigenous drone manufacturing efforts.

These concerted efforts by the Indian government underscore its ambition to position the country as a premier global player in the drone manufacturing domain. By incentivising production, facilitating agricultural applications, imposing import restrictions for certain categories, and streamlining administrative processes, the government is proactively nurturing a fertile ground for the growth of domestic drone manufacturing while simultaneously kindling a diverse array of business prospects and employment opportunities.

(The author is a Patna-based educationist, entrepreneur and career counselor. You can send us your feedback on this article at feedback.employmentnews@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.