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Drone in flight path disrupts Delhi airport, raises regulatory issues

Photo credit: Hive.

All three runways at Delhi’s international airport were shut down last night after an Air Asia pilot reported spotting a “drone-like object” on his landing approach three nautical miles away, news agency PTI reported. Several flights were diverted before the runways reopened.

The international airport in Delhi is the busiest in the country, handling around 1,200 flights a day. This incident is likely to bring the regulation of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) under scrutiny.

There’s a directive [PDF] by authorities in India against the launch of UAVs in civil aviation space. Even elsewhere, the use of drones requires government permission. But the enforcement of such rules – as well as the need to make them pragmatic – is a grey area.


Bangalore-based Aerx Labs makes flight simulators, devices that artificially recreate the flying experience, as well as drones.

Drones are increasingly used in India in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, and defence for surveying, mapping, and safety. The Indian government recently cleared a US$2 billion deal for surveillance drones from the US and a similar US$400 million deal with Israel.

See: Lab to oilfield: how student entrepreneurs hooked the world’s largest refinery

A number of startups have also been coming up with civilian use cases for drones. Civil drones worth US$15 million have been sold so far in the country and the Indian civil aviation ministry has formed a committee to finalize regulations on the use of such drones.

Drone delivering a pizza in Mumbai. Photo credit: Francesco’s Pizzeria.

In May, a pizzeria in Mumbai put up a YouTube video of delivering a pizza by air in the congested city – and came under investigation. The same month, a traveler from China was detained with 10 DJI drones at Bangalore airport.

The regulation of drones, especially around airports, is a global issue. Earlier this month, air traffic controllers at Newark International Airport in the US alerted a United Airlines pilot to a drone in its flight path about two miles out. Last year, a Lufthansa aircraft had a near-miss with a drone that came within 200 feet of the aircraft while it was landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

This post Drone in flight path disrupts Delhi airport, raises regulatory issues appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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