How to Choose the Right Drone Services Provider
You need drone services for your next project, but how do you find a reliable and reputable drone service provider? While there are some legal requirements and regulations specific to your industry to understand, these are the general questions you should have answered before committing to a drone service provider (DSP).
There are thousands of Drone Service providers to choose from, and you need to vet the company before working with them to keep your company in good standing with the FAA and maintain compliance. Here, we discuss the factors you should consider when choosing a drone service provider.
The drone service provider you choose should be insured to fly in the state of your project. The drone service provider should have general liability insurance and UAS aviation liability coverage. There’s no question that inspections and data collection performed by drone are far safer than those performed using traditional methods, but any sensible provider will be fully insured against any potential accidents or damage.
Regulations in commercial drone operations are changing rapidly as new markets and operational scenarios arise. The DSP you choose should be up to date with the latest rules set forth by the FAA. They should be able to answer what the federal, state and local regulations are without hesitancy and comply with the mandates in your area. A benefit of using a reputable drone service provider is that they will know the ordinances on a project you may have out of state with which your team is unfamiliar.
Large size DSPs employ a dedicated risk mitigation and legal officer to advise them on ever-changing industry regulations to maintain compliance. A reputable company will know the regulations, licenses, and certifications necessary for each type of project, no matter the industry.
What type of equipment does the drone service provider offer? Do they provide top-of-the-line sensors and equipment as well as options that fit the scope of your project? Your drone service provider should fly a commercial-grade drone and provide you with the correct sensors and cameras needed for the best results, depending on whether you need traditional imagery versus Infrared, LiDAR, or other more advanced data sets.
You should expect your provider to discuss options and tailor an equipment loadout specific to your project. Familiarize yourself with the current industry standards for video resolution and accuracy and be sure that your vendor is using up-to-date equipment.
Experience and Referrals
Your drone service provider should be willing to show flight logs from previous inspections and reports from similar projects. Drone services providers operate across a wide swath of industries and specializations, and you want to be sure that the DSP you are vetting has experience in your field. Experience matters when looking for a drone service provider so that the deliverables you pay for are of the best quality.
Can the drone service provider handle the scope of your project? Do they have a proven track record of previously flown jobs? A legitimate DSP has referrals from clients and experience that can help you determine if they are a good fit for you and your project.
Your provider’s pilots must have their FAA Part 107 Certification. The Part 107 Certification is a drone pilot’s license that allows an individual to fly drones. All quality firms will require this certification for their pilots, and you should ask for proof that pilots are licensed before doing any work with the DSP.
What exactly does your DSP deliver? Do they offer editing or data processing? Do they have in-house account management? Are there any technical or geographic limitations to their capabilities? Some DSPs only deliver certain data sets or work in specific locations. Some DSPs communicate strictly through an online platform, while others employ project managers to help clients through the entire process.
Efficient and reliable drone service providers employ project managers who communicate personally and consistently with you, the client, as well as the hired drone pilot. A project manager acts as a liaison, relaying any problems, delays or scheduling conflicts between client and pilot. Project managers act as the client’s representative throughout the project from quote to deliverable.
Drone services provide valuable benefits to a growing number of industries. Before you choose a drone service provider, it is imperative to make sure the one you choose is reputable and guarantees high-quality deliverables and customer service.