Things to consider before Hiring A Drone Pilot
Top 5 items to consider:
- IS THE PILOT LICENSED?
- IS THE OPERATOR INSURED?
- ARE THEY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT AIRSPACE/FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS?
- WHAT IS THE PILOT'S EXPERIENCE LEVEL/HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
- IS THERE A WEBSITE/PORTFOLIO OF THEIR WORK AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING?
(Expanded Information Below)
1. IS THE PILOT LICENSED? - In August, 2016 the FAA introduced 14 CFR 107 (also known as Part 107), which are the commercial operating rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Pilots and operators who wish to operate drones for commercial (for-hire) purposes are now required to have a Part 107 'drone/UAS' license to do so legally. Asking if the potential hire has a license is a good first step, but you should follow-up with asking to see their actual FAA certificate/license. The FAA can impose steep fines not only on unlicensed operators, but also to those that hire an unlicensed operator! You can find more information about FAA Part 107 HERE
2. IS THE OPERATOR INSURED? - Using an operator that follows the rules and has procedures in place to prevent mishaps can put the odds in your favor for a safe and successful operation, but no matter how knowledgeable or experienced an operator may be, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. Though it is not a requirement under the FAA Part 107 rules, it is highly advised that you seek a drone pilot who carries some sort of liability insurance to protect you and the operator should anything happen. If you are not already aware, we live in a litigious society!
3. ARE THEY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT AIRSPACE/FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS? - It is imperative that whomever you are looking to hire has a good deal of knowledge about when and where operations can be safely conducted. The National Airspace System is is one of the most complex aviation systems in the world, and there are certain requirements, including waivers and authorizations, that the operator must have to legally fly for commercial purposes within certain types of airspace - specifically, 'Controlled Airspace'. There are also specific waivers that are required for other types of operations as well, such as night time, operations over people, etc. You can find more information HERE (Waivers/Authorizations list is about half way down the page). There is a great website that you can use to get an idea as to whether the drone pilot will need to have an airspace authorization that can be found HERE. Simply input the address of your intended shoot location and select all of the boxes under the 'Controlled Airspace' column to see if that address is in controlled airspace! If so, then the operator will need to have authorization from the FAA to legally fly in that airspace.
4. WHAT IS THE OPERATOR'S EXPERIENCE LEVEL/HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS? - Drones are a new and exciting business to be in with some estimating that the global drone industry could be worth $127 billion by the year 2020! With everyone and their brother buying a drone and 'opening up a drone business' (all within the same week) and not having any experience or knowledge about aviation or flying radio-controlled aircraft it can be difficult to know who you are dealing with. Asking someone what their experience level is and/or how long they have been in business is a good start, but you should also be able to discern the professionals from the amateurs by using the rest of this list!
5. IS THERE A WEBSITE/PORTFOLIO OF THEIR WORK AVAILABLE? - Before buying a house or a new car, you first go to check out the property or take the car for a test drive to see how you like it. It should be no different when you are paying someone to get aerial photos or video for you. Though you may not get to actually fly the drone, you should have a good idea of the quality of work that the drone operator provides to ensure that you are getting your money's worth. Asking your potential hire if they have a portfolio of their work is a good step to ensuring that you will get the quality of aerial images you envision.
This list is a good start in vetting a drone pilot and we invite you to contact us with any other questions or concerns that you might have via the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you!