Things to Consider about Hiring Drone Pilots

What’s all this talk about drones? Are they safe? What’s their purpose?

Past the dark ages but far from saturation. This is my answer when I’m asked where the market stands with drones. We’ve seen the push towards some regulation, but regulators still don’t quite fully understand the technology, its potential nor the implications of their policies. The majority of the public is still yet to personally encounter drones or their uses and for that reason, there’s still massive misunderstanding. Residential real estate and event photography saw the adoption of drone sourced content first, commercial real estate is beginning to realize the opportunity along with utilities and manufacturing.

As with most new tech, we’re seeing polarized opinions when it comes to hiring experts. Some see the convenient features DJI creates and think “this is so easy, anyone could do it!,” while others see the complex capabilities of these tools and are scared to touch them. As someone who hires hundreds of pilots a month, here are some things to consider:

  • Licensing – Civilian drone operators don’t need any licenses or certifications to fly their UAVs. However, commercial pilots must be 16 years of age or older, pass a background check by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) of the Homeland Security Department and earn a remote pilot airman certificate.
  • Registration (timely) – If your drone is not registered in the FAA it can’t be used commercially. Registration of commercial drones must undergo a certification test (Part 107 Exam) for airspace authorization. (Different from a license)
  • Drone Insurance (Expensive) – Drones need insurance coverage if your using it commercially, up to $100,000 annually. We have millions in liability insurance.
  • Fines and punishments (Risky) – Drone Pilots that fail to meet any and all drone regulations are considered to be risky. There is regularly updated drone legislation that drone pilots must constantly be aware of. Fines for drones that fail to comply with regulations can be anywhere from $27,500 for civil cases, and up to $250,000 for criminal incidents with the possibility of 3 years in jail. 
  • Training for your specific purpose (Difficult) – No matter how experienced they are, they’ll need to be trained on your company’s aircraft, operation types, and flight procedures. Extra training cost valuable time for your company. We train all of our pilots to film specifically for commercial real estate.

Overall, when it comes to your decision to hire an expert, do it(at least at first). Even if drone services will remain a vital piece to your business over the next 5 years, the initial testing phase will be much more costly to do alone. An expert can give you a much better understanding of what you’re looking for. Other things to consider include: 

  • Scaling – are you prepared to make the investment needed to reach your desired scale? 
  • Additional services – does the data need to be edited or analyzed? These services are often 5-20 times more expensive than the flying portion.

(Source: Drone Pilot Ground School)

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