Bengaluru, Feb 3 (PTI) The government is considering allowing air traffic controllers, operated by private entities, to manage drone operations in the Indian airspace below 1,000 feet, said a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official on Wednesday.

"The drone ATC (air traffic controller) will be called UTM (unmanned traffic management) and it will collaborate with the manned traffic management, which is being handled currently as a sovereign function by the Airports Authority of India (AAI)," said Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The AAI, which works under the ministry, manages all manned aircraft operations in the Indian airspace. A passenger aircraft generally flies at a height of around 30,000 feet.

"The airspace below 1,000 feet is lower airspace and it would be the main playground of drones. For that, we may have a system of private ATCs, which would be managed by private operators," Dubey said at a session organised by industry body FICCI at Aero India 2021.

"It could be a government agency or a private agency, it is something that would evolve," he added. 

The AAI cannot handle drones because they would be flying at 5 feet to take care of crops to about 1,000 feet in the airspace, Dubey mentioned.

Drone technology is moving way faster than the regulations so we have decided that we need to start a parallel activity, he said.

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