Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming more and more popular by the day for both recreational and commercial purposes. Many people are realizing the great opportunity for drones to be used in many different commercial markets. However, there are some regulations, procedures, and safety concerns that clients should know when looking for a drone photographer / videographer pilot. things to consider before hiring a drone operator.

Is the drone pilot certified?

All drone operators flying for a commercial venture must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This point is non-negotiable. If a drone operator is flying to further any business (with or without compensation) it is considered a commercial activity and they must operate under a FAA Part 107 licenses. We hope that you never run into a drone photographer who is offering services without even being licensed. It’s not likely that you’ll be in any trouble if they lied to you, but if you are aware that they don’t have a license and still hire them, that’s where you may run into some hot water. It’s against the law to fly a drone commercially without a drone license. Knowingly hiring an unlicensed drone operator is a crime. Always ask your drone operator to show their license before the flight begins. Many clients assume that the legal ramifications of an unlawful operation will only fall on the operator. However, the FAA has ruled that those who hire unlicensed operators could also be legally and financially liable. So, before you hire anyone for drone work, ask them if they are licensed (FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule Part 107) and if they are, they should also have no problem showing proper documentation of that license as well. In order to become a licensed pilot, one is required to pass a federal background check, pay the appropriate licensing fee and pass the Part 107 knowledge test at a FAA approved testing center. This is a challenging test that covers a wide range of topics. The benefit of hiring a drone pilot is that you can be assured that you will have hired someone who is extremely knowledgeable. Federal and state regulations are constantly changing, so it’s important that pilots stay up to date on any changes to the rules. This expertise will go a long way and help solve any issues that may arise. A good drone operator will be able to produce high-quality images and capture detailed data for your projects. Plus, having extensive knowledge of the industry they are working in will help make sure the work they produce is polished and professional.

Make sure your drone pilot has registered their drone.

It’s the law! All drones weighing over approximately a half pound (.55 lbs) and up to 55 pounds must be registered via the FAA’s drone zone web portal. Drones weighing more than 55 pounds undergo a licensing process similar to typical manned aircraft. This is for aircraft identification in case of an accident and the FAA needs to contact the owner.

Does the pilot have public liability insurance?

Safety is probably a top priority for your company and its employees. Similarly, many licensed drone pilots hold safety as a top priority as well. Drone professionals have spent countless hours learning the FAA rules and regulations to make their business legal. During this process, they have learned about the many effects that weather, temperature and other factors can play into their flights. It’s very different flying a drone commercially than it is for recreational use. Despite the best intentions, pilot error, malfunctions, interference, or acts of God could result in damage to property or injury to persons on the ground. It is likely that such incidents may result in a civil claim in which the drone operator and the hiring person or business could be listed as the co- defendant. Accidents happen even for the most experienced drone pilots. For this reason, it is absolutely essential for a commercial drone pilot to have liability insurance coverage in cases where a mishap may result in property damage or personal injury. Aerial drone operations require specific aviation public liability insurance. Request a copy of your drone operator’s current insurance certificate. Since licensed pilots are operating commercially, they will want to protect themselves, their business, and anyone else who might be around the operation. That’s why most drone pilots hold around $1M in liability insurance. You will need to check if the insurance policy of the candidate is still active, and the coverage amount is efficient. Assessing whether the coverage is enough or not will depend on what your particular application is: you will probably not need much insurance if your fly over forests or mountains, but you will feel a lot more comfortable flying over residential or commercial areas with a higher coverage. You may also consider working with the drone pilot to identify the potential risks of your application.