DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) has defined NPNT i.e. No Permission No Take-off as a mandatory compliance for all RPA’s in India. As part of this compliance, the RPA must seek permission from the Digital Sky platform for each flight before take-off. The permission is granted in the form of Permission Artefact (PA) from the Digital Sky platform.
Primarily, NPNT has following three functions.
- Permission Control – As part of Permission Artefact, the RPA gets geo-fence within which the RPA must fly. Alongwith the horizontal geo-fence, an RPA gets altitude and time bearing within which it should fly. This is the function of controlling flight permissions for RPA.
- Real-time Monitoring – During the flight, the RPA needs to continuously monitor the geo-fence limits defined in the PA. It needs to continuously check its current position vs. the geo-fence position. If it breaches the geo-fence, the RPA must land and return to home (RTH). During this breach, the RPA must send logs of the breach to Digital Sky every second. This is the function of real-time monitoring that ensures safe flights.
- Auditing – Once a flight is complete, the RPA has to upload all logs of flight operations to the Digital Sky Platform. The logs should be signed by the digital keys stored in the RFM (Registered Flight Module). If incase of any mishap, auditing helps to understand the cause of it. Auditing helps identify the manufacturer, owner and pilot of the RPA so that further investigations can be carried.
One of the fantastic architectural concepts of NPNT framework is the capability of an RPA to take permission in digital format using digital certificate keys. Digital certificate is used to secure data between the Digital Sky platform and RPA. The certificate is used to sign the data and then encrypt/decrypt it. When we have secure communication between an RPA and the Digital Sky platform, only then we can avoid man-in-middle kind of attacks. Just think, if your RPA is hacked by someone with the help of man-in-middle kind of attack, it can be used for any illegal activity. In such a case, certainly the RPA owner will be held responsible for the damages. The cost of damage can be anything which even the drone insurance firm may not cover. Therefore, it is necessary to have the right implementation of NPNT process to avoid any possibility of hacking of any RPA.
In a nutshell, NPNT is MUST for secure communication with Digital Sky platform. If your NPNT Digital Infrastructure provider i.e. RFM provider is incapable of providing you with the right solution, it may prove fatal for your business. When you go to NPNT Digital Infrastructure Provider, always check their capabilities of management of digital keys. Since right NPNT implementation can help you to protect your RPA from hacking and anonymous control, it be not a burden but a boon.