Fees for drone pilot training course will significantly decrease in the next 3-4 months as more institutes will get necessary certification from the aviation regulatory body, Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Tuesday.
He was virtually addressing a ‘drones for agricultural use’ session.
Responding to a question on high fees for a drone pilot training course raised by a farmer from Gujarat, Rakesh Patel, Scindia said, “You said the fees of a drone pilot course is currently quite high. You should not worry at all.”
In the last five months, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has certified 23 schools for training drone pilots, he added. “As the number of schools keep increasing, the cost of training drone pilots will keep decreasing.”
At present, the fee ranges between ₹30,000 and ₹1 lakh, depending on the course.
The country definitely needs more drone pilots and it is for this reason that their certification process has been completely decentralised, the minister said. “So, now, the DGCA will only certify drone schools, and it is the drone school concerned which will grant certificates to pilots. We have completely removed bureaucracy from this process,” he added.
India announced an ambitious policy last year to boost drone manufacturing in the country.
Stating that it was important to look at drones from the broader perspective of air mobility vehicles, Scindia said he expected a great amount of investment in India in that space and pointed out that the government has already come out with a list of the first 14 vendors under the PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme.
Earlier this month, the civil aviation ministry invited second round of applications for the PLI scheme. The first round of applications for the scheme was invited on March 10 and its results were announced on April 20, wherein Adani Group’s joint venture company with Israeli firm Elbit, IdeaForge Technology, and 12 other drone companies were selected as beneficiaries.
An agriculture engineer, Nisha Solanki, during the session, talked about the advantages of using drone that provides uniformity in sprinkling fertilisers and water, and safeguards farmers from allergic reactions to the chemicals.
To push for ‘Make in India’ in February this year, the Union government barred the import of foreign drones with immediate effect in an effort to encourage domestic manufacturing of drones. Since last year, the government has issued liberalised drone rules, a drone airspace map, extended the PLI scheme to drone manufacturing and introduced a single-window DigitalSky platform to help the drone manufacturing industry grow.
At the launch of the drone policy last year, the government said the domestic drone manufacturing industry is expected to grow from a combined turnover of about ₹80 crore to ₹900 crore in three years.