13 companies including food ordering apps Swiggy and Zomato, drone maker Throttle Aerospace Systems and hyperlocal delivery platform Dunzo have received permission from The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to perform experimental fights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones.

DGCA has shown keen interest in allowing private firms to experiment with the feasibility of deliveries via drones since last year. The finalized companies are expected to start their experimental flights in the beginning of July and have been mandated to complete 100 hours of flight time in airspace provided by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by September end.

The lockdown delayed the approval for 11 firms while Throttle Aerospace Systems and Dunzo were granted permission in March itself. The list of approved companies also includes ShopX, Spicexpress, Zipline, Redwing, and ClearSky Flight.

DGCA opened application in May 2019 for conducting BVLOS experiments of remotely piloted aircrafts as it has been performing experiments for next-gen civil aviation requirements.

Zomato had also performed its first drone delivery in June 2019. The drone was a fusion of rotary wings and fixed wings and completed a delivery for a distance of 5 Km carrying 5 Kgs load within 10 minutes. A hospital in Uttarakhand also used drone around the same time to deliver blood samples at a distance of 36 Km.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation provided conditional exemptions to drones installed by an authorized company for aerial surveillance, photography, and public announcements. The drones are expected to reduce the duration and expense of last mile delivery but their use on large scale does not seem likely in near future.

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