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‘Medicine From The sky’ (MFTS) Project

‘Medicine From The sky’ (MFTS) Project

Context:

  • Telangana government launched ‘Medicine from the sky’ programme on September 11 after a final regulatory nod from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to conduct operations.

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Key Details:

  • Though drones have been used for photography, mapping, and other operations, the ongoing Coivd-19 pandemic has widened its scope beyond limits.

  • Telangana government launched ‘Medicine from the sky’ programme.

  • It is now the first State in the country to embark on Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) flights.

  • Experimental BVLOS drone flights for delivery of vaccines was done using the identified airspace of the Vikarabad district.

  • During the Wings 2020 event in Hyderabad last year, the Telangana government partnered with the World Economic Forum for the MFTS programme.

  • An expression of interest (EOI) was released to assess the capability of drone service providers and 8 consortia (between logistics firms and drone operators) were shortlisted.

  • The private sector and start-up firms, through collaboration with the state government, can be integrated into the government healthcare systems.

What is ‘Medicine from the sky’ (MFTS)?

Aim of the Project:

  • Use drones as a mode of delivery to improve medical supply chains.

  • To assess robustness and reliability of the drones using different payload sizes, and in controlled temperatures, from distribution centers to specific locations and back.

  • The payloads could be medicines, vaccines, units of blood, diagnostic specimens, and other lifesaving equipment.

  • To assist policymakers and health systems to analyse the opportunities and challenges of drone delivery as well as competing delivery models and technologies.

  • Partners: The project is led by the Emerging Technologies Wing of the state IT department in partnership with World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals).

  • The WEF has commissioned an industry core group comprising the Governemnt of Telangana, PHFI, and NITI Aayog to look into aspects of mobilising capital for the drone ecosystem, with an emphasis on medical drone ecosystem.

  • The other aspect would be to identify distressed last miles in the country where drone intervention is required.

Draft Drone Rules 2021

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has unveiled the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 based on “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring”.

  • The new rules would replace the existing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, notified in March, 2021.

Provisions:

  • Approvals:

    • Abolish the need for various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence.

    • Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.

  • Digital Sky Platform:

    • The government will be developing a digital sky platform that will have an interactive airspace map dividing the country into green, yellow, and red zones.

    • It will provide a secure and a scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off).

    • It will be designed to enable flight permission digitally and efficiently manage unmanned aircraft operations and traffic.

  • Reduced Airport Perimeter:

    • The draft rules reduced the airport perimeter from 45 km to 12 km.

    • The rules state that no flight permissions would be required to fly upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

  • Pilot License:

    • No pilot licence would be needed for micro drones for non-commercial use, nano drones and for R&D organisations.

    • There would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

  • Drone Corridor:

    • The Ministry will also facilitate development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries.

    • A drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

  • Safety Features:

    • The draft rule also provides for safety features such as real-time tracking beacon, and geo-fencing, which are expected to be notified in future and a six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.

  • Increased Coverage of Drones:

    • The coverage has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg and will cover drone taxis.

    • The Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness has been delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by it.

Source: Indian Express