To hire a commercial drone is becoming more common every day. There are many new companies offering film footage at competitive pricing. Some of these companies are too young and inexperienced, that they take things lightly. Some others just want to avoid costs and miss compliance with only getting by with the minimum requirements.
Before you engage with the wrong company, it is best to do some research. Ask them directly about insurance and certifications. That way you can eliminate unsafe or unprofessional and potentially illegal companies from your list. Thus getting just what you paid for and not another headache.
Depending on the country you want to film, laws may change. However, the general trend is that drones must go through a registration process, similar to cars and other vehicles. In the United States, the FAA is regulating drone authority. Part 107 requires that any drone from half a pound and up to 55 pounds are to be registered when it is intended for commercial or hobby use.
If the drone exceeds 55 pounds, then the process is handled differently. As per current laws, it is considered an aircraft and should go through the Aircraft Registry Process.
Make sure the company you hire has all the necessary registrations. If not, then you are unintentionally breaking the law. Your job and your business can be at risk.
Drone Operation Permits and Certification
The drone operation permits are equivalent to your driver’s license. Since drones are new on the world scene, they are not yet fully regulated in all countries. If you are hiring a drone operated in the United States, the pilot would need to be remote pilot certified under part 107
The application process is done as part of the Part 107 Certification to become a pilot of a UAS. The certificate is valid for two years, and you must be at least 16 years old to apply. The process includes a test in aeronautical knowledge to assess applicants. Only after passing the test, aspirants can submit their application (form 8710-13). The submittal process can be done online or in the traditional hard paper.
Existing pilots with certificates under 14 CFR part 61 can go for a shortcut. There is an online test for Part 107 amendment, which is smaller than the regular test for first-time applicants. The certificate for existing pilots is permanent as long as their pilot license is valid.
Insurance companies have products for drones. They are considered UAS, which is an unmanned aircraft. Depending on the size and other specifications, the insurance calculates the potential risk in case of an accident.
If we take the car analogy again, there are many types of insurance. It can cover the drone’s cost or any damage done to another in the case of an accident. $1 million in liability insurance for certain jobs, and at times a minimum amount accepted within the industry
You should not hire a drone operator without insurance. Most insurance companies check other legal aspects we have already covered. For example, the insurance cannot proceed if the owner has not conducted the required registration. It is more likely that a drone with insurance has all the paperwork set. However, it is no guarantee at all, and it is best to check for it.
Sign a Contract
Make sure you sign a contract that limits your liability. In the case of an accident, the contract will protect you from claims that the company you hired should respond to and correct.
When you read the contract, look for your responsibilities and theirs. You should not accept any liabilities on your side since that is the job of the company you are hiring. The contract should also specify the details of their permits, including registration, certification, and the insurance policy.
List of Questions to Ask
- Ask to see their drone registration number.
- Ask for their drone certification (part 107).
- Ask for a copy of their insurance policy.
Depending on the kind of job you are requesting from them, you may add other questions. However, these three things are the minimum requirements to let them work for you on any project.
If you are hiring a company outside the United States, look for local laws and current rules. If there are none, then at least ask for their insurance policy. If they don’t have it, you are at risk with that company.
Why are there Drone Companies falling in non-compliance
If registration and certifications are a requirement by law, then don’t you wonder why are there done companies falling in non-compliance?
The answer is simple. Drones are only forced for registration if they intended for commercial or hobby use, and over the weight limit. Most drones for recreational purposes do not require registration. Then, there are the home-made drones, which are also popular. With such small devices and the many facilities to distribute and build them, they are surpassing current laws. Therefore it is the job of people hiring their services to check before hiring the wrong company that can get you into unwanted troubles.
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