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Drone Flight Delivery of Covid-19 Vaccines

May 14, 2021

As the pandemic continues to engulf the entire nation, the increased demand, supply and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is a matter of crucial concern and resort to technological advancements for implementing the same is indeed the need of the hour.

In a noteworthy move, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) & Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) vide its order dated May 7, 2021 has granted extension for conditional exemption to the Government of Telangana for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line Sight (BVLOS) drone flights for delivery of Covid-19 vaccines . This exemption has been granted under the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021 and will be subject to the adherence to conditions and directions issued (or as may be issued in future) by MoCA[1].

Make healthcare available at citizen’s doorstep

The objective behind the Ministry’s move is to make healthcare available at citizens’ doorstep, increase the reach of the healthcare facility to as many people as possible, curb human exposure where Covid cases are on a rise and limit human contact in areas that already have a high number of Covid-19 cases. This move also aims to accelerate the drone deployment process to formulate application-based models for which the grant has included Beyond Visual Lines Sight (BVLOS). The trials are expected to begin from the end of the month of May, 2021.

For the experiment of drone flights, Government of Telangana must comply with conditions set up by MoCA, some of which are listed below as under-

  • The maximum height permitted for a drone is 400 feet Above Ground Level.
  • At the time of flight, an energy reserve of 15% should be maintained at all times.
  • Weather limitations mentioned by the manufacturers should be complied with.
  • Drone operations will be limited to local sunrise & local sunset.
  • Visual Metrological Conditions (VMC) shall prevail at take-off & landing sites.

The exemption is valid for a period of one year from the date of approval of the SOP or until further orders, whichever is earlier. The Government of Telangana would also be required to send a detailed proof of concept to MoCA & DGCA.

The Ministry’s notification in detail can be accessed here.

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[1] https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1717026

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