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Aircraft

Aircraft register

What are the requirements for entry in the domestic aircraft register?

The Indian aircraft register is maintained by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Foreign-owned aircraft leased to Indian operators can be registered by making an application (through duly authorised agents, usually the lessee/Indian operator) using Form CA-28, along with paying the prescribed fees and submitting the requisite documents and information (eg, bill of entry, ownership, name, nationality and address of directors of the owner, lessor, security interest holder and operator).

Mortgages and encumbrances

Is there a domestic register for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests? If so, what are the requirements and legal effects of registration?

There is no separate register for mortgages, encumbrances or other interests in India. However, where aircraft are mortgaged or hypothecated, such a mortgage or hypothecation, on proper application, is endorsed on the certificate of registration. This constitutes a public notice. Further, a charge created over an asset of the Indian company must be filed with the registrar of companies. Under the Companies Act 2013, ‘charge’ includes mortgage. Without registration, it is void against the liquidator or any other creditor of the company. 

Detention

What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

The federal government may detain an aircraft if:

  • it is in the interest of public safety or tranquillity;
  • the flight of such aircraft would endanger persons in the aircraft or any other person or property;
  • detention is necessary to secure compliance with any regulation;
  • the aircraft belongs to, is owned or operated by, or is in the possession or custody of any person of an enemy territory; or
  • the operation of the aircraft is likely to assist an enemy or be prejudicial to the defence of India.

Aircraft involved in drug trafficking or any other serious crime can be seized or detained and may even be eventually sold. Amounts due for landing and parking charges may lead to detention of the aircraft, but usually it would not be sold. It is unlikely that a sale would be ordered without notifying the owner. The federal government or its agencies can confiscate, detain or requisition aircraft (whether foreign owned or otherwise) during a general emergency.

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

The DGCA has issued various civil aviation requirements in respect of safety and maintenance,including with regard to:

  • approval of maintenance organisations;
  • approved maintenance training organisations;
  • licensing of aircraft maintenance engineers;
  • validation of foreign licences of aircraft maintenance engineers; and
  • airworthiness and maintenance requirements.

No person is allowed to operate any flight unless it meets the minimum safety requirements laid down by the DGCA. Every operator must have a flight safety awareness and accident/incident prevention programme. Further, aircraft that are more than 18 years old cannot be imported for passenger operations. For air cargo operations, aircraft must be less than 25 years old. Use of mobile phones or any electronic device that transmits radio signals inside the aircraft is not permitted. 

Drones

What is the state of regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in your jurisdiction?

There is currently no law in India which governs the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In 2014 the DGCA issued a public notice wherein it prohibited the launch of any UAV in Indian civil airspace by any non-government agency or individual. On November 1 2017 the DGCA issued draft guidelines for the operation of civil UAVs, which require registration of all UAVs. Under these draft guidelines, the DGCA would issue operator’s permits and unique identification numbers.

Remote pilots will have to undertake ground training like crew of manned aircraft. Third-party insurance will also need to be procured.

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