Mumbai: Aero-modeling, which has flourished in India for more than 50 years, may soon have to stop if there is no rethink on the new laws on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Flying remote-controlled airplane models is a past-time for many in Mumbai. Every week, enthusiasts gather at places like Mumbai's Mahalaxmi Racecourse and the sky overhead is seen dotted with model planes. But new draft rules by the Director General of Civil Aviation club model aircraft with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like drones and quadcopters, which have been restricted due to security concerns.
The draft rules were announced three weeks ago and the policy is expected to be formalized soon.
After aero-modelers wrote to the aviation regulator, JS Bhullar, the DGCA, met them on Thursday and assured that their demands will be considered. Mr Bhullar has asked the aero-modelers to attend an open house discussion on UAVs that will be held in Bengaluru next week.
Umesh More, the Chairman of Wings India and an aviation enthusiast, told NDTV, "More than 8000 to 9000 young and old people have this hobby. Each of them is potentially learning the art of flying. Hence it will be suicidal for us to stop this activity by any administrative order."
The proposed rules do not allow airplane models to weigh more than 2 kg. Moreover, the planes can only fly up to a height of 200 feet - as high as a 20-storied building. Aero-modelers say this is highly inadequate. Most countries like the US, Canada and Switzerland allow a model airplane to weigh as much as 30 to 40 kg and caps the height at 400 feet.
Young people and engineering students say aero-modeling helps them experiment and innovate, but the new rules are impractical and difficult to follow.
"Aircraft are some of the most dynamic vehicles that you can have, so they're very good at making you understand what physics actually does in real life," a young aero-modeler told NDTV.
"Aero modeling also gives me an opportunity to use the knowledge and it's a great engineering project for me," adds another aero-modeler.
Darius Engineer, the secretary of the Indian Academy of Model Aeronautics, told NDTV, "The DGCA is killing the sport instead of promoting it".
Aero-modeling, he said, came to India in 1951 through the NCC and ever since, there has been no problem with it. "To come down with the kind of regulations they've formulated is absurd. No model airplane can ever go up in the air with those kinds of regulations," he added.
The DGCA did not respond to NDTV's queries on the issue.