Aeromodelling enthusiasts have initiated an online signature campaign against the governments proposed rules on drones claiming it threatens to destroy recreational flying. Earlier this month, the aviation regulatory body DGCA has released its draft rules making it mandatory for "unmanned aircraft system" to seek a unique identification number (UIN) as well as an operator permit.
Model aircraft weighing up to 2kg, and those operated by government security agencies are exempted from this requirement. In a petition on online platform Change.org, aeromodellers say that these rules will "render their hobby and sport impossible and unsustainable". In a separate petition to the DGCA, submitted as part of the consultation procedure before the rules are finalised, they have submitted that a separate category must be carved out for "model aeroplanes" as these dont pose any security concerns.
Aeromodellers explain that as model aeroplanes are flown in the line of sight unlike drones, which can be pre- programmed and can be remotely controlled, they should not be considered a security threat. Hobbyists have also demanded that the weight limit of model planes exempt from registering for a UIN and a permit should be increased up to 25 kg from 2kg. "When a multi-copter is made it can be made for a weight less than 2 kgs but how can an aeroplane model made with a wooden structure and powered by a motor weigh so less? We can only make thermocol models for kids with that weight limit but not the sophisticated versions we currently use," said member of a flying club called Wings India, Puneet Manaktala.
In their submission to the DGCA aeromodellers have also opposed the move to fix the age limit of pilots flying such aircraft at 18 years. They have recommended that the government can regulate model planes through various flying clubs which can maintain records of pilots flying such aircraft instead of requiring mandatory registration with DGCA.