What you must know before hiring a drone operator

To obtain and legally use drone video for commercial purposes, the drone operator and/or company must...

The Operator or Company...

• Must Have a FAA 333 exemption.

• Observer and/or or Operator flying must have a current FAA issued Airman’s Certificate. Pilot must have at minimum, a Sport Pilot license. A student pilot license is not enough to be legal.

• Operator must have an FAA approved Flight Operations Manual for Motion Picture and Television. This manual must be made specifically for the operator and the operators company.

• If the drone flying is going to be within 500ft of people (other than the visual observer, the pilot, or necessary personnel), the operator must have closed-set TV/movie approval. If you request the exemption from the operator, line two of the restrictions will say if they are approved for it or not. Note: husband and wife walking the dog round the subdivision while you are filming this now applies!

• The Aircraft they are flying must be Registered with the FAA and have an “N number” clearly displayed on the hull.

• This N number must match their certificate, their 333 exception and be the registered aircraft cleared for flight that day by local air traffic control.

• The Aircraft being flown must be listed on the exemption. This is in restriction 1 of the exemption. If the type of drone is not listed there, the operator is not approved to fly it.

• The company must have a Specific COA over and above the blanket one issued with the 333 exemption to fly in that airspace where your property resides and within 500 feet of other buildings. Remember if you are in restricted airspace or within 5 nautical miles (5¾ miles) of any airport you have to have a specific COA approved.
Unless the operator has a special certificate of waiver or authorization (COA), they cannot fly within 5 nautical miles of a towered airport, 3 nautical miles (roughly 3½ miles) of an airport with a tower not in operation but with an instrument approach, or within 2 nautical miles (Just over 2¼ miles) of a heliport or airport. The turnaround time on special COA’s is around 30-90 days depending on the complexity of the airspace and airport.

• The operator must have filed at least 24 hours before a notice to airman (“NOTAMS”). You can check on your operator remotely by calling 1-800-wx-brief or going to the website 1800wxbrief.com and searching for NOTAMs in your area.

• They must fly within the granted time frame and locations approved by ATC.

• The company must have a Night Time COA if flying during sunset and after twilight and have been granted permission so you can get those sunrise and sunset vista shots. No night flying unless they are approved.

• The company flying must have or appoint a “spotter” - you must be safety briefed also.

• The company must have a UAV Insurance Policy not just a liability policy you should demand a minimum of 1 million in coverage.

• Operator must file all flights and logs with the FAA within 5 days of the flight having taken place.

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