So you’ve made the decision to hire a drone pilot for the project you are planning. Someone may have recommended a friend for the job, but before you sign the contract there are four questions you should ask.
Don’t assume that because an individual is running a business offering drone services they will have followed all applicable laws. But since the industry is so new, many businesses are not in compliance. The law requires that any pilot flying commercially to have UAS pilot certification. This certification is obtained by successfully passing a FAA administered test and being vetted by the TSA. This process must be renewed every two years. If a pilot is flying commercially without FAA certification, they are subject to civil and criminal penalties and fines up to $10,000. Click here for a quick fact sheet about Part 107 or here for the entire Part 107 regulation.
Most drones used in commercial operations have obstacle avoidance features that make it fairly difficult to crash a drone.
Advanced maneuvers may require these features to be turned off and can be difficult to master, but if a pilot has crashed more than a few times you should be weary of them. Your objective is to find out the pilot’s philosophy on safety. A pilot that flies irresponsibly or one who disregards safety precautions is not someone you want to work with.
Flying a drone can be technically challenging and accidents are a possibility. It’s important that the pilot has an insurance policy that will cover any possible damage to property or people. Even though accidents are not expected a responsible business owner will be covered “just-in-case”. The most common level of coverage is $1million.
Many customers see a drone demo and are excited by the “wow” factor, but when it comes to paying for the same product they balk. Make sure you see what you are going to get for the price you are paying.
Looking at comparable work samples will help you to set reasonable expectations for the finished product. For example, if you are hiring a drone pilot for a video, how are they at ground video as well? Maybe they are good at ground video but not aerial video. If you are looking for aerial photography, is video an option as well?