Drone pilots – How to source the right pilot for your project

Glasgow Drone Services - Sunrise over the Clyde by pilot Bjorn Aaen at Drone Scotland
Sunrise over the Clyde, Glasgow – Drone Scotland, February 2021

So you’ve decided you would benefit from drone services but not sure how to choose the correct drone pilot for your project? How do you know which pilot would be right for your project? Drone services are still a relatively new concept and therefore it might not be obvious how to separate the professionals from the newbies. This short guide is based on my own experience of recruiting drone pilots to work with us on projects.

1.) Do they have a drone pilot licence from the CAA? ALWAYS choose a qualified pilot with a CAA licence. Ask for a copy of their Operational Authorisation license before agreeing any contract. If unsure you can check the database of licensed operator’s yourself on the CAA website – CAA list of Operational Authorisation licenses.

2.) Quality of videos and images on their website. Does your drone operator have high quality videos and images on their website or are they using stock images they’ve bought in? If they have good quality work it will be published on the website.

3.) Public Liability Insurance. Does your pilot have public liability insurance? If the answer to question 1 is no then it’s unlikely they will be insured either. Think seriously if you want to employ services of an uninsured operator…..

4.) Ask for examples of other similar projects they have produced for other companies. For example if you want a drone pilot to conduct a building inspection then look for someone with that exact experience. The best tv and film drone operator is not necessarily the best operator to conduct a building inspection and vice versa.

5.) What equipment are they using? (Do not be embarrassed about asking this question) You don’t need to be a technology expert to ask this. Get the answer and research it afterwards. A large industrial drone for example is probably not the best choice for a building inspection at a school. A smaller version that can handle light winds, with a good camera, is probably more suitable. If you require post-production of the images/video then ask what software they are using.

6.) Testimonials. Look on their website for good testimonials. Are they genuine testimonials or is it family members/friends providing google reviews…………..

7.) How much experience do they have? Check when they obtained their CAA license (as per point 1) and since then how much commercial work have actually delivered since then. In my hunt for good pilots the one thing that amazed me was the number pilots who obtained their license, struggled to get paid commercial work and didn’t continue practising flying. Therefore their skills never improved. On the other hand I’ve met a few good pilots who have continued learning and despite no commercial jobs, they are actually quite skilled.

Drone services are growing rapidly and there are some great drone pilots out there. I hope the above guide is helpful in finding the right pilot for your project.

Never be embarrassed about not knowing enough about the technology to ask some of the questions above. If in doubt there are plenty of resources on the web that can help you answer questions about equipment etc. Always ask for a copy of the operator’s licence and insurance. Anyone serious about their industry will have a CAA qualification and will happily share this information with you.

Drone Scotland provide drone services throughout Scotland and at the time of writing this article we have multiple ongoing projects running in Edinburgh, Dundee, Stirling, Gretna, Glasgow, East Kilbride, Paisley, Newton Mearns, Dunfermline, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian, East Lothian, Bearsden, Bothwell, Perth and Bathgate.

We are always looking for skilled pilots to help with projects and happy to hear from them.

For more information contact us at office@dronescotland.com

Glasgow drone services – (0141) 302 4685

Edinburgh drone services – (0131) 203 3077

Dundee drone services – (01382) 785 693

Ayrshire drone services – (01292) 518 833

Sunrise over Stirling Castle by pilot Bjorn Aaen, Drone Scotland - November 2019
Sunrise over Stirling Castle – Drone Scotland 2019