1. Are they legal.
It is a legal requirement in the UK to be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, before you can do any work that could be considered commercial. Anyone can purchase a drone these days, and they are quite easy to fly, but this can only be for recreational purposes, unless you have a pilot and a company that has been trained on a CAA approved course, passed the exams and flight test, submitted an operations manual, and received the Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the CAA.
As well as gaining the relevant permission the pilot should follow the required operational procedures, which involve detailed flight planning, checking landowners permission, adhering to airspace rules, and ensuring the safety of all involved. This will mean that you can expect the cost to cover more than the short time that the drone is actually in the air.
2. Are they insured.
All Drone operators need to have Public Liability Insurance. Drone operation has some inherent risks, and a good company/pilot will do everything possible to try to minimise then, but the unexpected can happen and you don’t want to end up the victim.
3. Do they have the equipment needed?
Think about your requirements. Can the drone operator’s equipment deliver the quality and resolution that you need? For example, do you need 4k video. What resolution of images do you require?
4. Consider the post-processing.
Are you expecting the pilot to simply hand over an SD card with the raw footage, or do you need the content to be edited into a final production? This can take time and will add cost to the work.
5. Are there other services needed?
Aerial photography can be very effectively combined with ground based, still and video content. Has the company you are considering got the skills to cover this, in addition to flying the Drone?
In summary, it is worth checking with the company about their approach to planning, safety, and how the assignment fits into your total requirement. Be aware that land owner permission is needed for wherever you fly, you must keep safe distances from the public, buildings, and other potential hazards. The pilot must check for suitable weather, airspace approval, and many other things. Your prospective company should be happy to enter into an open discussion with you about their approach.
Having said all of that. Drone Photography has never been easier, and the different perspective offered can bring great advantages. Please click below if you have any ideas you would like to discuss, we would love to hear about them and see if we can make them a reality!