Hiring a drone pilot is very similar to hiring any sort of professional, you’ll have some questions - how much does it cost, what services do you offer, do you have an example of your previous work? However probably the most important question you can ask is if the operator holds permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly commercially. Drones operate in the same airspace as commercial aircraft therefore it is important that the operator is suitably qualified. Operators must follow the Drone Code (the law) to ensure they always fly safely and legally. It is against the law to fly a drone or model aircraft without having the required IDs. Pilots can also be fined for breaking the law when flying. In the most serious cases, they could be sent to prison. The person hiring the operator could also face negative repercussions.
We hear a lot of people saying “ the drone is under 250g, we don’t need a license” or “our cameraman has a drone”. No matter what, there are still legal requirements that must be met before someone can operate a drone commercially in the UK. When someone obtains permission from the CAA there are certain requirements which must be met such as the creation of an operations manual for example. There are also tests such as the theory test and practical flying test. Do you seriously want to employ someone who doesn't even have the minimum qualifications or insurance?
HawkAye has had permission from the CAA since 2016 and holds comprehensive liability insurance to cover all flights. Every job we do is risk assessed, both pre flight and on site. We liaise with the Police Scotland Aviation Safety Unit, Air Traffic control and also 101 to ensure everyone is aware of our operations and that we operate safely.
We’ve compiled a list of key questions to think about when hiring a drone pilot:
Is the drone pilot qualified? Does your drone pilot hold a valid set of permissions from the CAA? If not they could be breaking the law and by not confirming if the person has permissions, you could also be breaking the law. Ask for a copy of their CAA documentation. It is in a pdf and is easily shared. You can also ask for their operator ID and Flyer ID.
Does the drone pilot have insurance? Every commercial fight must have adequate public liability insurance in place that is fully compliant with EC 785/2004. Your organisation may have a specific requirement for liability insurance. Even if the operators liability cover is lower, they should be able to temporarily increase their cover for a set time period. Again, ask for evidence of cover.
What experience does the pilot have? - If you are hiring a drone pilot to shoot cinematic video, do you want a pilot who has experience of carrying out drone surveys? Find out what types of work they have previously done.
Do they have a showreel? - Watch the operators showreel and see if the type of work they have carried out will work with your project.
Do they have the correct equipment? - If you want to shoot 8K video then a Mavic 2 won’t be able to capture that. Have your requirements clearly laid out and discuss this with the operator so you know what’s possible up front.
The operating environment for drones involves complex legal requirements and is constantly changing so it is important to make sure you hire a pilot who is fully qualified and aware of all the legislative changes that impact how the pilot operates.
You want a pilot who is going to operate safely and legally whilst delivering a great product.
Looking to hire a professional drone pilot, get in touch
Watch our latest showreel below