To comply with NPNT, how many software’s & hardware's do you need for flying a drone?

DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) has defined a NPNT i.e. No Permission No Take-off as mandatory compliance for all RPA in India. One of the fantastic architectural concepts of NPNT framework is capability of RPA to take permission in digital format using digital certificate keys. Digital certificate is used for securing data between Digital Sky and RPA. The digital certificate is used to sign the data and then encrypt/decrypt the data. This end to end secure communication of data is meant to avoid any kind of man in middle attack. As per NPNT process, each flight requires permission from Digital Sky platform. The permission comes as part of software process, where client software sends request to Digital Sky platform and and gets PA (Permission Artefact) in response after successful exchange of digital keys. The functionality of sending requests to digital sky platform can be implemented in multiple ways.

Method A – A GCS Software that communicates with Digital Sky

An integrated GCS Software with an inbuilt ability to communicate with the Digital Sky platform to get the Permission Artefacts (PA). In this method addition hardware or software is not needed, but the GCS software manages all the transactions and uploads the PA to RFM device to parse and use the digital keys to comply with the NPNT process.

Method B – An additional Software put into a hardware

In this, a separate software installed on an additional hardware is used to get PA from Digital Sky platform and upload it to RFM device. Both the methods have their individual pros and cons which we’ve explained in a separate article here. Now, apart from GCS software, the pilot also uses an RC controller for flying the mission on field. So in order to make it convenient, it helps if an RC controller has GCS built into it. But if one does not have GCS in the RC controller, the pilot will essentially require the following three things simultaneously:

    1. RC controller hardware
    2. Native GCS software like Mission Planner or similar
    3. Third Party Software for NPNT process to obtain PA.

On field, it not only becomes hectic for the pilot to use three different systems to fly the drone, but also consumes a lot of time. So, the questions arise; Is there any solution for this? and Can all three be combined together to get the work done using a single system? Yes. It is certainly possible, solutions are available to combine all three together and use single system for ease of operations to save time.

Solution No. 1

An RC controller hardware having a GCS software that has NPNT process as an integral part of it, hence bringing down the number of devices to just 1.

Solution No. 2

Pilot can use RC controller that does not support GCS software and use a single GCS software for management of flight plans (mission planning), getting PA from digital sky and complying with NPNT. Which brings the number of devices to 2. Which may still be convenient that using three different things, plus a drone and its extra batteries.  It is wiser to plan well and early!