Amid the Gujarat government’s push to promote the use of drones in several sectors, the state is facing a shortage of certified drone pilots.
There is a mandate by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that requires candidates enrolling for drone pilot training to have a passport.
The DGCA is the nodal authority in the country for “prescribing drone training requirements, overseeing drone schools, and providing pilot licences online.” It has currently approved 29 Remote Pilot Training Organisations (RPTOs) across the country for imparting training in flying and maintenance of drones. But several candidates enrolling at these drone training schools are unable to apply for a licence because they do not have a passport.
Since drones can be misused, the government is trying to establish the credentials of a drone pilot by making the passport a mandatory requirement.
The state government announced its drone policy in August to encourage commercial use of drones and generate 25,000 jobs in the process, a vision backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wants India to become the world’s drone hub.
At Kaushalya — The Skill University (KSU) in Ahmedabad – only 25 candidates who applied this year for the drone training course had valid passports. The university, a DGCA-approved and the only state university in Gujarat offering drone pilot training, received over 640 applications, of which 325 candidates submitted the required documents and 154 candidates were finally called for scrutiny.
It has been decided to provide one-month basic training, instead of the minimum 40-hour course as mandated by the DGCA, to those who do not have passports.
Meanwhile, according to sources, the Gujarat government has raised the issue of mandatory passport requirement with the DGCA and central government officials, but the DGCA denied having received any such communication or request.
Private training institutes in the state are also struggling to admit students due to the passport mandate.