How to Find a Drone Operator You Can Trust
Drone technology is becoming more and more accessible, and it has countless uses across the built environment. A drone can be a great help if you’re surveying a building / site, carrying out maintenance inspections, or if you’re looking to gain the edge over your competitors using aerial photography to create unique project marketing material.
However, as drone usage grows in popularity, it’s important to find a drone operator you can trust to assist with your projects. There’s a world of difference between sourcing a drone pilot who flys for a living and one who’s simply a hobbyist.
To ensure you get the best results every time, you should find a drone operator who can meet the highest criteria. If you’re not sure what you should be looking out for, here are the key points you need to scrutinise.
Find a Drone Operator Who is CAA Approved
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulates and oversees all civil flights in the UK, including the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). This means they decide who is allowed to use drones for commercial purposes.
The CAA will only grant the right to carry out commercial operations to drone pilots who have passed rigorous procedures to prove their competence. This is more commonly known as having Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO).
It takes a great level of skill to be granted this right, but for the best results, you should find a drone operator who has gone one step further, earning Extended Permissions via an Operating Safety Case (OSC).
Extended Permissions are only given to drone pilots who have completed the toughest and most thorough processes laid out by the CAA. It gives the operator the right to fly:
Higher than 400 feet
At a distance greater than 500m
Closer than 50m to any person, vehicle, vessel or structure outside of their control
These Extended Permissions are vital if your development or project covers a lot of ground or is based in a heavily congested area, such as Manchester City Centre.
Always ask to see an operator’s credentials before hiring their services. Any operator who is CAA approved will be more than happy to prove it.
Make Sure They Are Insured
As drones are still relatively new pieces of equipment, it’s easy to overlook the legalities of flying one. Much like driving a car, having a license is only step one, and your operator has to be insured before carrying out any commercial work.
You need to find a drone operator who has public liability insurance. This means if a person is injured or a property is damaged as a result of a flight gone wrong, the insurance company will cover the costs, and you won’t be liable for the incident or for payments.
Naturally, a highly qualified drone operator is unlikely to get into trouble, but an unexpected change in the weather, a malfunctioning battery or even a bird flying into the drone can result in injuries or damages. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so remember to check if your operator is fully insured.
How Well Does Your Operator Know Their Drone?
There’s a reason the CAA requires drone operators to go through such rigorous testing procedures. Drones are complicated machines and it takes a lot of practice to fly one safely. As such, your operator has to know their drone inside and out to mitigate any risk of injury or damages.
Some drones can stay airborne for hours and others only have a battery life of 15-30 minutes. The more hi-tech drones are also heavier and harder to pilot. On the reverse side of that, lighter drones can be blown about by moderate gusts of winds.
Before allowing an operator to fly over your development, ask them to explain their drone’s capabilities. If, for example, the operator knows they only have a short battery life, they should at least come prepared with spare batteries and a charger.
But it’s not just the drone they need to know; it’s the relevant equipment, too. Being able to fly a drone competently is just one aspect, and you want to be sure the operator knows how to capture the best images and conduct thorough surveys, as well. Otherwise, you’ll get very little out of the flight.
Find a Drone Operator Who is a Photographer…
As mentioned, being able to fly a drone is all well and good, but being able to use one properly for photography work is key. When taking images with or without a drone, a professional photographer will know how to get the best from a photography session.
Outside shoots are particularly difficult to pull off, but your drone operator should be able to make many worthwhile suggestions. The time of day, the season and the weather all affect the quality of images. A true professional will advise you on the best times to carry out a flight, as they’ll want you to get the best footage possible.
This will also be reflected in their post-production editing skills. There’s a huge difference between raw footage and the final product, as imperfections need to be removed and some images need to be sharpened to make them look professional. If an operator doesn’t offer editing services, you might not get the quality you’re hoping for.
…and Knows the Building Trade
Even highly competent flyers who understand the importance of photography might not fully understand what you’re trying to achieve with your project. The built environment is a specialist subject, and many industry terms you use could leave an operator flummoxed.
With over 15 years under my belt as a building surveyor and project manager, I can fully get to grips the purpose of your project. I understand what you’ll be looking for from surveys and how to unearth the data you need to develop a site or ensure it’s safe to work on.
There aren’t many drone operators in the UK who are specialist photographers and have extensive experience in the building trade. If you want to be certain an expert is handling your needs, you can get in touch by clicking here.
Check Their Past Projects
If you’ve started to gather information on various drone operators, you’ve probably come across their portfolios. To find a drone operator you can trust, take your time to go through their various projects in detail.
By getting a good grasp of the quality of their work, you gain a better understanding of how they’ll bring out the best from your development. You should also take a look at the type of project they handled. Brickwork inspections, roof surveys and marketing shoots all require expertise, and you need to be confident the operator you instruct can handle your enquiry.
Make sure to take a look at my own extensive portfolio for a better idea of what my services include.
Making it Easy to Find a Drone Operator You Can Trust
Finding the perfect drone operator can be like searching for a needle in a haystack — and from a height of 120m. However, if you’re on my website, you’ve already found the perfect drone operator for your project.
With my CAA credentials, skills as a photographer and long history in the building trade, I can capture all the images and data you need. If you have a project that requires a bird’s eye view, get in touch with me today to see how I can help.