10 Questions to ask a drone service provider in the UK when considering hiring them

What are your qualifications and certifications for flying drones commercially?

It is important to ensure that the drone service provider you hire holds a valid qualification from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The minimum level certification for commercial work is A2C of C  (A2 Certificate of Competency) and/or GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate). For drone operations that require extended distances, height, and other specific drone expertise the operator should have an OSC (Operational Safety Case).

These certifications show they have been assessed as competent and their operations are in accordance with CAA regulations.

Have you worked on similar projects before?

It is important to know whether the drone service provider has experience in specific projects. Ask for examples of any similar projects they have worked on previously and how successful these were. 

Can you provide references or examples of previous work?

A reputable drone service provider should be able to provide you with references or examples of their previous work. Ask a portfolio of images and videos they have taken in the past. This will help you determine their level of expertise and professionalism.  

Check references from other clients who can vouch for the quality of the work delivered either direct references or via reviews online e.g. Google Reviews, Checkatrade, testimonials. 

What kind of equipment do use for drone flights, drone data capture and processing?

Find out what hardware and software they use. Do they have the latest drone technology, both in terms of their drones and data capture/processing capabilities? 

This is important in terms of the type of drones and skillsets used to capture data, images or videos that will be processed to provide the expected outcome you need. The output you require is dependent on the sensors in use to capture media at the right frame rates, pixel level or the use of RTK/PPK to increase GSD (Ground Sampling Distance) level accuracy for surveying, inspections and so on. Some drones have thermal capability and others are capable to have payloads added to capture LiDAR data. 

What is your approach to project planning and execution?

Ask for details about their approach to project planning. How do they plan to carry out the project and how long will it take? 

This should include risk assessment, safety protocols and contingency plans in case of unexpected events or circumstances, including weather. Find out what kind of pre-flight checks they do to ensure their operations are safe and compliant with the CAA regulations.

What is your experience with CAA regulations and compliance?

The UK has strict rules regarding drone operations. Find out if your prospective service provider is up to date with the CAA regulations and what training they have in this area, this is most readily clarified by ensuring they have up to date CAA Certifications and qualifications. 

What kind of data outputs can I expect from your services?

Find out what kind of data outputs you can expect from the drone service provider. Examples could include geo-tagged images, 3D mapping and aerial surveys, detailed reports, or analysis of inspection data. 

Can you provide a detailed cost breakdown for your services?

Ask for a detailed cost breakdown of the project before hiring any drone service provider. Check what is included in the total cost e.g. planning costs, extra licences or permits and post production costs. This will help ensure that you have no undisclosed surprises when it comes time to pay their invoices. 

What is your insurance coverage and liability limits?

Ensure that the operator has relevant and sufficient insurances including Public Indemnity, Public Liability insurances. CAA Regulations require that the insurance held MUST be compliant and include clear reference to EC 785/2004. 

Most drone companies can increase their level of cover on a daily or project basis if they don’t hold a sufficient level of insurance as ‘standard’ in their operations. This is particularly important if they are flying close to or over areas such as Railways as Network Rail require a minimum of £5 million cover. 

What is your policy on data security and confidentiality?

Ensure that the operator has a clear policy and process for handling data securely, ideally, they should have passed Cyber Essentials Certification as this independently assesses the operators level of cyber security. 

The request for information should include assurances regarding encryption of media files, secure storage, and transfer protocols as well as in-depth confidentiality agreements if required. 

This should also include GDPR compliance measures as well as their approach to destroying any personal or sensitive data that may be captured during operations.

In Summary

We hope these guidance questions help you to decide on which drone service provider to contact and potentially hire. Overall, make sure you take your time to ask the right questions when hiring a drone service provider. Doing your due diligence and ensuring you have all the information needed will help ensure that you get the best possible service at an acceptable rate. 

This will help ensure success in achieving the outcomes desired, while maintaining safety, compliance, and data integrity.  

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to find out more or ask further for more details contact@S4GDroneServices.com

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City view Drone shot captured by the S4G Drone Services team