Hiring a drone pilot.
- Update – Drone rules are changing at the end of December 2020. But people hiring drone operators must ensure that the operators have the necessary COMMERCIAL insurance in place for the work being undertaken.
Hiring a drone or UAV pilot can be a time consuming, and confusing experience. Further confusion may have been generated by the ‘Drone and Pilot Registration’ regulations introduced in the UK by the CAA in November 2019.
Here we have a brief run down of what to loo for when you need to hire someone for a professional drone job.
Is a drone the best tool for the job?
Although drones can provide fantastic results when used professionally, they may not be the right tool for the job, for example, doing a basic roof inspection in the middle of a town, may be best completed with a pole camera. It could be that ground based imaging may be best suited for the results that the client needs.
Why use a Professional Drone / UAV Pilot?
When you’re satisfied that a drone is the best tool for the job, you will need to seek out a Professional Pilot if the fight is to be completed for hire or reward, also known as valuable consideration. Any organisation, or person in the UK, not utilising a professional pilot in these cases could find themselves liable in law in an event of any unforseen issues.
How do you know that a pilot has the required CAA ‘qualifications’
Any professional pilot in the UK will be able to provide a copy of their Permission for Commercial Operation (or PfCO for short) for inspection if requested. They should also be insured for at least the minimum amount required by the Regulation (EC) 785/2004
As of 30th November 2019, in the UK, all drones over 25g also require an ‘operator ID’ label, and all drone flyers require a ‘Flyer ID’.
** NOTE that a Flyer ID or Operator ID is NOT a Permission for Commercial Operations! **
The CAA publish a list of commercial operators, which should be considered when looking for a pilot with a valid PfCO.
What drone(s) would be useful for your needs?
Lets face it, drones are usually not a cheap item! It may be that the drone pilot you find may not have the drone and/or sensors that are needed for the work required. Most professional pilots will have the necessary contacts to hire suitable equipment for the duration of the planned work. It’s always a good idea to ensure that pilot has the necessary skills for any non standard flying, for example, in a congested area, or producing results at night time.
What about flight planning?
All Professional Drone / UAV pilots will have undertaken extensive training in planning flights from a safety point of view, and should be able to perform comprehensive risk assessments, mitigating those risks where needed.Sometimes, however, flights may just not be possible due to regulations in force, or temporary restrictions from the CAA or other relevant organisations.
Unfortunately, in the UK, the weather can be very erratic, to say the least! Being one of the few things that can’t be accurately forecasted in advance.
All Professional drone / UAV pilots in the UK have to have an Operations Manual, which is approved individually by the CAA, including flight limits on wind speed, rain and temperature. It may be that the weather could interfere with any plans, so It would be wise to have additional dates in mind for any work in case of weather problems.
What additional training has the pilot undertaken?
All Professional pilots will have undertaken a training course (and exam!),as well as a flight test, prior to gaining their PfCO from the CAA. There are also training providers that help build on the piloting skills providing knowledge in various sectors. Here at ClearSkyImaging we have completed several such courses including mapping and agricultural applications as well as QGIS training to allow us to present such data in a professional manner.
Remember! A Drone Operator ID, and Flyer ID on their own is not sufficient for Commercial Operations in the UK! A commercial pilot must have a PfCO and insurance valid for the date of any flight.
Hopefully, this should be a basic list of things to considering hiring a drone pilot. If you’d like to speak to us at ClearSkyImaging, by all means contact us! We’d be pleased to help.