Choosing a Service Provider

What should you look for when choosing a drone service provider?

There are a number of considerations that you should take note of when working with a drone operator to protect yourself, your client and the service provider from potential legal and physical damages.

Is your service provider CASA approved?

In order to earn money from a paying customer a drone pilot needs to hold an RePL (Remote Pilots License) and be working for a business or company who holds a ReOC (Remote Operators Certificate), both of which are granted by CASA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

For a drone pilot to obtain an RePL they must complete a course in flying unmanned aircraft in Australia and pass both a theory exam and practical assessment. There are many rules and regulations that must be followed regarding when, where and how a drone operator can fly and these are all part of obtaining your license (RePL). Ask for their ARN (Aviation Reference Number) as proof that they are licensed.

The company must also hold an ReOC which means they have appropriate documentation which outlines the processes they follow when flying unmanned aircraft. ReOC holders can also request to have their chosen pilots fly outside of CASA regulations such as at night, closer than 30m of people or within restricted airspace.

How experienced is the pilot?

Ask for previous examples of work before committing to a drone service provider. Obtaining an RePL is one thing however being able to produce quality work and keeping safe at the same time is another. Whether it be photographs, video, 3D models or data maps, the company should be able to show you previous examples of their work.

Does the operator have the right equipment for the job?

Not all drones are built equal so ensure that your operator has the right equipment for the required job.

For photography and video the operator should own a drone with a camera that has at least 4K video capabilities and can take RAW images of at least 20MB resolution. They should also have the skills to process these photographs and video in software to produce the final product.

In order to create accurate 3D models the operator needs to have access to automated flight software as well as the right equipment to mark accurate GPS points (as surveyors do). Whether the camera on the drone has a rolling or mechanical shutter also affects the accuracy of the final model.

For agriculture special cameras are required to record NDVI data which are then put through special software to produce high quality data maps of crops.

The kind of project you need completed will require particular hardware, software and operator experience, ask for examples and what equipment they use.

What if there is an accident?

What would you do if you hired a drone operator to take internal video of a home you are selling for a client and their drone crashes into a wall causing thousands of dollars worth of damage? What if the drone had a mechanical issue and fell from the sky and severely hurt someone? Having the reputation of your company tarnished is just the beginning of your problems with the possibility of legal action looming.

Ensure your chosen operator has substantial Public Liability Insurance and ask for their certificate.

Keep clear of hobby pilots

With good quality drones on the market becoming cheaper, the amount of drone operators in the public has grown substantially. By following these few checks you not only limit you and your businesses chance of legal action, you can be assured that the work completed is of high quality and meets all the appropriate standards in place by CASA.

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