Five important tips for hiring a drone pilot

We are here to help you throughout the process of getting aerial photography and to assist with any questions you may have. As a starting point, we have set out some tips below for you to keep in mind when choosing and working with a drone pilot. Please note that we are entirely independent and are not related parties with any of the drone pilots. We are also not involved in or a party to the actual agreement you may enter into with them. Accordingly, please re-familiarise yourself with our Terms and Conditions before entering into any transaction with a drone photography pilot.

Here are the five important tips to bear in mind when choosing your drone pilot:

1. CASA Approval

Drone pilots in Australia must be approved by CASA (the Civil Aviation Safety Authority), before they work for a paying customer (sell you their images/video/data).

While we require all pilots listed on to provide evidence of their CASA approval status, you should satisfy yourself that your chosen pilot’s CASA approval is valid and that it permits the pilot to carry out the kind of aerial photography work you are asking them to do.

The three main kinds of approval are: ReOC (Remote Operators Certificate), RePL (Remote Pilots Licence), and RPA operator accreditation. Note that engaging a non-CASA approved drone pilot may expose you to substantial damages or compensation claims.

2. Liability insurance

We strongly recommend you satisfy yourself that your chosen drone pilot holds a current public liability insurance policy that specifically covers drone photography / the operation of a drone for your project.

3. Pilot experience & background

Ask your drone pilot to demonstrate that they have experience doing specifically what you are asking for. Pilots should be able to demonstrate this by showing you their sample images, videos, data sets or 3D models. Relevant experience and equipment is key to a successful match between the job and the pilot. E.g. just need some simple good quality aerial photography of a property or event? Just ask the pilot to send 2-3 examples of similar jobs they have done.

For a film shoot, music video or documentary, the pilot will require a high-end drone and camera set-up such as the DJI Inspire 2 with X5S camera. He should also have some background experience working with a Director of Photography (DOP) and know how to fly very smoothly and creatively in order to get the drone into the right position for that optimal drone photography that the DOP is looking for.

Or, to carry out survey or terrain mapping work, the pilot would need to understand how to capture data sets accurately and then process those data sets into accurate 3D models or volume calculations to ensure that the final result is accurate.

4. Travel expenses

Drone pilots who are not based near the area that your job is located in sometimes add travel expenses to their drone photography quote. Please discuss this with them directly.

5. Special job approval

Depending on the nature of the job, the job location and various other factors, drone pilots may need to request approval from the airspace regulator CASA before commencing aerial photography work. You should ask your chosen pilot about this directly before the commencement of any work, especially if your job is located within a 5.5 km radius of an airport or aerodrome.

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