Are you considering hiring a drone pilot for your next project? The world of drones and RPA UAVs has opened up possibilities in various industries. From photography and videography to agriculture and construction drones are used to save time and cost. However, finding the right commercial drone pilot can be a difficult task. With the market flooded with options and millions of consumers owning their drones it’s important to know the basic tips to consider before making your decision.

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1. Hiring a Drone Pilot with Insurance

When hiring a drone pilot, it’s crucial to verify their insurance coverage. Unlike other business insurance, drone insurance is unique and comes under aviation. Understanding the extent of protection provided by the insurance can safeguard you from potential liabilities in case of accidents or damages during drone operations. The business hiring the drone pilot is responsible for any damages caused by the drone pilot. Standard business insurance doesn’t cover drone insurance and requires specific aviation insurance either from a broker or an insurance agent. Look for a minimum of $20 million in public liability insurance and ask for a Certificate of Currency from the drone operator.

2. CASA Accredited and Approved

Becoming a commercial remote pilot requires significant training and experience. Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) accreditation is essential. Opting for a CASA-approved drone pilot with a RePL (Remote pilot licence) or ReOC (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate) ensures that they have met the required standards set by the aviation authority. The benefits of hiring a CASA-accredited pilot include expertise, compliance with regulation and a commitment to safety.

5 Tips for Hiring a Commercial Drone Service Provider

5 Tips for Hiring a Commercial Drone Service Provider – Check for RePL or ReOC

3. Researching Qualified Drone Pilots

Before finalising a drone pilot for your project, conduct thorough research. Check the pilot’s website and social media and check their accreditation on CASA. Do the drone pilots bring additional qualifications, experience and life skills that suit your project? Evaluating their background can help you make an informed decision and choose the best fit for your project. For example: a drone pilot with experience in mining and project management would be a better fit than a pilot who takes pictures of real estate for a volume and survey project.

4. Getting Approvals and Permissions

Navigating the process of obtaining necessary approvals and permissions for drone operations is vital. Crown land, private land, restricted zones, State Parks and National Parks require permissions and or permits. Your commercial drone pilot will organise these permits or permissions however be prepared to give approval from your project team/OH&S and safety teams so drones can take off and land on your property.

Prepare or update your JSA/SWMS/Risk Management registries with the correct approvals and permissions for drone flights. Have your hazards and no-fly zones clearly indicated so your commercial drone pilot has this information. Understanding the regulations and restrictions within your location is crucial. By following the guidelines set by landowners, you can conduct drone operations safely and legally.

Commercial Drone Operations - JSA/SWMS/Risk Management

Have your hazards and no-fly zones indicated. Update any JSA/SWMS and Risk Registers.

5. Quote, Post Production and Final Delivery

When discussing a quote with the drone pilot, it’s important to consider not only the pricing but also the post-production services. Understanding what is included in the final deliverables and negotiating pricing and timelines. Questioning this upfront can help in setting clear expectations and a smooth project completion.

Common questions to ask before hiring a drone pilot:

  • What is your RePL or ReOC number from CASA?
  • What is your Certificate of Currency for drone aviation insurance?
  • Are there any flight restrictions or airspace issues for the filming location?
  • Is it a fixed price aerial package that includes GST?
  • What are your payment terms? Are you GST registered?
  • Is travel included in the filming location?
  • Any additional charges for post-production or retouching services?
  • Do I receive all the RAW photos/videos or Edited JPEG?
  • Do you offer revisions, how many times can I get changes?
  • How many aerial photos and videos do I get for the job?
  • Do you offer cloud storage, viewing, downloading and editing?
  • What measures do you take to ensure data security and confidentiality?
  • What happens with bad weather – Are there charges to reschedule?
  • I’m not happy with the photos/video, will you redo them for free?
  • How long will it take to deliver the final aerial photos and videos?
  • Do you have backup equipment in case of technical issues or equipment failure?
  • Can you provide a timeline with milestones from consultation to final delivery?

This document is a checklist and guide for hiring a drone pilot. It provides a list of questions and considerations to keep in mind when hiring a drone operator for a project. The checklist covers various aspects such as qualifications, licenses, insurance, permissions, pricing, post-production and other important factors to consider when hiring a drone pilot.

Version 1.0 – contact us with feedback and improvements to this checklist.

Bonus Tip for Hiring a Drone Pilot:

Conducting a Test Flight (if applicable)
For projects where a test flight is applicable, it plays a significant role in assessing the skills and capabilities of the commercial drone pilot. Many commercial operators will offer a free test flight so the customer can evaluate the drone pilot’s performance, the equipment used and the output of the final product. For large projects, a test flight can help you make an informed decision, ask questions and clarify any issues before hiring a drone pilot.

Hiring a drone pilot and commercial operator is an important step for your project. From legal compliance to safety and attention to detail hiring is an important process within your business workflow. Whether capturing a beautiful landscape, surveying and mapping your site, a cinematic scene, or a significant event, the successful drone operation lies in the harmony of expertise, planning, and execution.

Want to learn more? Contact Bendigo Aerial or Ask AeroBot the Chatbot.