Only Hire A Licensed Drone Pilot!
To commercially operate a drone the pilot must be FAA certified & licensed. And insured. Period.
In the industry that’s known as having a Part 107 license. Not only am I licensed under the FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107) , I have full liability insurance coverage for all of my operations in the air.
What’s the big deal, Rich? So what if I hire an unlicensed drone pilot? Who’s going to get hurt? Well, specifically you! If someone is caught without a license and flying a drone for commercial purposes, that person can be liable for an $1100 fine from the FAA. For each incident.
But, you as the person who hired the unlicensed drone pilot can be responsible for an $11,000 fine! Yes the fine for hiring an unlicensed drone pilot is ten times the amount that the pilot gets charged with.
This also applies to those who fly their own drones for their own business. I couldn’t use any drone footage of my listings until I was properly licensed to do so. Those are the rules.
Look At All Of The Liabilities Of Hiring An Unlicensed Drone Pilot:
Not only will the pilot get a fine for operating a drone without a license, but you will as well. There are fines for both commercial and recreational drone violations. The drone must be registered with the FAA. Civil fines can reach $27,000 while criminal fines as much as $250,000. Licensed drone pilots have insurance to assume this liability, relieving you of this risk.
If something goes wrong and the pilot causes property damage, you could be held liable for any damage or injury. Licensed drone pilots have liability insurance which will cover unexpected events.
PRIVACY RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
A licensed drone pilot understands the laws and rules regarding the privacy rights of those in the drone’s view. They know what they can and cannot record and follow the guidelines set forth in the FAA Best Practices.
What Should You Do When Hiring A Drone Pilot:
1) Ask to see the pilot’s FAA Remote Pilot Certificate (drone license), and whether they hold any other FAA licenses. If they are unlicensed, find another pilot.
2) Ask the pilot for a Certificate of Insurance (COI). If the job is large, complex, or otherwise high risk, it is not unreasonable to ask to be listed as an Additional Insured.
3) Ask the pilot whether he/she will require any Part 107 Waiver(s) to complete the job. These waivers include flights in controlled airspace, nighttime operations, operations over people, and several other restrictions. While the process is getting better, some waivers can still take up to 90+ days to get approved so it is important to know ahead of time if they will be necessary. (LAANC is speeding this up but is only available in some areas right now.)
4) Ask the pilot about their safety and experience. How long have they been in business? Have they ever had an incident on a job? Do they have backup equipment if there is a failure? Do they fly with a Visual Observer? A good Drone Pilot should be able (and willing) to answer any safety-related questions you may have.