Drones are a tool for your business, but the cost of purchasing the most technologically-advanced drone and employing a trained (and soon required, licenced) drone pilot, may militate against the purchase. Hiring a drone services operator to perform the aerial shoot, obtain data collection, or survey your manufacturing plant or facility that your company requires, is likely the most cost-effective and convenient move. For more on this point, see our earlier Insight about questions to consider before purchasing a drone or hiring a drone services operator to perform the work for you.
With capable drones available for purchase by the public at relatively low costs, many drone services operators have set up a shingle and are open for business. However, protecting your company means hiring the right operator for the job who also has safety and regulatory compliance at top of mind.
When considering hiring a drone services operator, here are a few important indicators that can help determine whether he or she is legitimate and worthy of your business:
- The operator has a proven flight record with the specific drone suggested for your mission. One size does not fit all when it comes to drone flight experience, so asking for the pilot’s logged flight time on a specific drone will provide you with comfort that the operation can be conducted efficiently and safely.
- Standard operating procedures (which comply with Transport Canada’s ever-changing requirements) are available to you on request. This is important because it means that the operator has considered all of the potential contingencies for flight, and has procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of the mission and to address any emergencies which may arise.
- Transport Canada approval is generallyrequired before commercial drone operations can take to the skies. Depending on the kind of mission you have planned, ask to see a copy of the operator’s submission to Transport Canada for special flight operations certificate (SFOC) in respect of your mission or shoot. More experienced operators will have Blanket SFOCs or Compliant Operator SFOCs, meaning they have a track record of safe operations with Transport Canada.
- Insurance, insurance, insurance. The operator ought to have plenty of insurance coverage (at least CA$1 million), and must be willing and able to list your company as an additional insured specific to the assigned mission.
Having the above requirements are signs of an experienced drone operator. Being satisfied with the drone services operator’s responses to the above questions will go a long way in ensuring you are hiring a professional for the job.