The Ultimate Guide To

Hiring A Drone Service Company

New Jersey is one of the most heavily-regulated states for drones service companies. We developed some helpful tips to help guide in the process. 

1. IS THE DRONE PILOT LICENSED?

In August 2016 the FAA introduced 14 CFR 107 (also known as Part 107), which are the commercial operating rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.  Pilots and operators who wish to operate drones for commercial (for-hire) purposes are now required to have a Part 107 'drone/UAS' license to do so legally. 

 

Asking if the potential hire has a license is a good first step, but you should follow up by asking to see their actual FAA certificate/license.  The FAA can impose steep fines not only on unlicensed operators but also on those that hire an unlicensed operator.

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring a Drone Company
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2. IS THE DRONE OPERATOR INSURED?

Using an drone service company that follows the rules and has procedures in place to prevent mishaps can put the odds in your favor for a safe and successful operation, but no matter how knowledgeable or experienced an operator may be, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. 

 

Though it is not a requirement under the FAA Part 107 rules, it is highly advised that you seek a drone service company that carries liability insurance to protect you and the operator should anything happen. 

3. IS THE DRONE PILOT KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT AIRSPACE AND FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS?

It is imperative that which ever drone service company in New Jersey has a good deal of knowledge about when and where operations can be safely conducted.  The National Airspace System is one of the most complex aviation systems in the world, and there are certain requirements, including waivers and authorizations, that the operator must have to legally fly for commercial purposes within certain types of airspace - specifically, 'Controlled Airspace'. 

 

As far as FAA flight authorization goes, there are three different types of airspace with different flight authorization rules you need to be aware of:

  • Uncontrolled airspace allows you to fly a drone without preflight authorization so long as there are no nearby aircraft in sight.

  • Controlled airspace requires you to request LAANC approval before each flight. LAANC stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability and can be obtained within minutes on a LAANC app.

  • Restricted airspace requires you to get a special drone flying waiver from a governing authority, usually a nearby government or military institution.

There are also specific waivers that are required for other types of operations as well, such as nighttime, operations over people, etc.  You can find more information HERE (Waivers/Authorizations list is about halfway down the page).  

 

Simply input the address of your intended shoot location and select all of the boxes under the 'Controlled Airspace' column to see if that address is in controlled airspace!  If so, then the operator will need to have authorization from the FAA to legally fly in that airspace.

4. WHAT IS THE DRONE OPERATOR'S EXPERIENCE LEVEL? 

Drones are a new and exciting business to be in with some estimating that the global drone industry could be worth over hundred billion by next year.  With the cost of drones dropping, there has been a influx of new providers. Many do not having any experience or knowledge about aviation or flying radio-controlled aircraft. It can be difficult to know who you are dealing with. 

 

Asking someone what their experience level is and/or how long they have been in business is a good start, but you should also be able to discern the professionals from the new providers by using the rest of this guide.

5. DOES THE DRONE SERVICE COMPANY HAVE A WEBSITE OF THEIR VIDEOS-PHOTOS AVAILABLE?

Asking the drone service company f they have a portfolio of their work is a good step to ensuring that you will get the quality of aerial images you envision.

6. DOES THE COMPANY UTILIZE DOCUMENTED FLIGHT SAFTEY MANAGMENT SYSTEM

Risk management and safety are the highest priority in the commercial drone industry, so you need to adopt drones that utilize written safety processes.  

 

A good safety management system (SMS) will have policies in place for proper onsite safety procedures. When it comes to drones, for example, a good SMS could include rules against other workers distracting the drone operator during flight and procedures for scheduling future drone missions. A drone SMS should also address risk management.

 

This includes identifying potential hazards by going through preflight checklists before each flight and reducing the risks to an acceptable level. This could mean postponing flights due to bad weather, keeping batteries charged, and inspecting and calibrating the drone before each flight.

7. HOW WELL DOES THE COMPANY KNOW THE NEW JERSEY DRONE ENVIRONMENT 

Every drone pilot needs to be aware of their operating environment. It’s basic flying protocol. So here are some questions to ask before launch:

  • Are there any nearby businesses or people whose privacy might be violated by an aerial drone flight?

  • Does the mission location have allot of radio frequency (RF) interference like cell phone towers, high voltage power lines, large metal structures or areas with high concentrations of wi-fi network that could cause signal loss between the pilot's remote and the drone? 

  • Are there nearby structures block the GPS signal of the drone?

  • Is there a lot of pedestrian and vehicle traffic that could be harmed in the event of an accident?

  • Could sudden wind tunnels from nearby structures force the drone to crash or become unstable?

 

This list is a good start in vetting a drone pilot and we invite you to contact us with any other questions or concerns that you might have.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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