When it comes to selecting a drone service provider for your aerial media needs it can be a daunting task. The industry is in the very early stages of growth so reliable recommendations and reviews can be hard to come by.
With drones becoming cheaper the barriers of entry are low and many are jumping in to the game putting out their Drone Aerials shingle with little to no previous experience. As a result, pricing alone is not always the key determining factor for selecting the best provider for your needs.
The true measure is in value provided and getting an end product that meets or exceeds your expectations and is done safely. Not all aerial media is made the same, low quality visuals can directly impact your brand and image.
As with any outsourcing you need to choose wisely who to work with and who you want to develop an ongoing relationship with. The following are some key factors to take into account before hiring an aerial provider.
Within Canada all commercial drone use is regulated by Transport Canada (most other countries have similar regulatory bodies, such as the FAA, CAA). Operators must follow these regulations to operate legally. In most cases in Canada this requires the operator to have what is knows as a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). If the provider does not have one (or doesn’t know what it even is) then you should avoid using them as you could potentially be liable in the event of an accident while on your property. It also indicates their general lack of knowledge on the regulations or a decision to ignore them completely. (In some instances an Exemption can be used, however these apply mainly in very rural locations so most often cannot be used.)
If the provider does not have what is called a Standing or Blanket SFOC (these are open long term certificates) already in place and relies on operation specific certificates then you could have to wait for 20 days up to 3 months+ for approval for your specific work. Those holding Standing SFOCs are generally able to work with very short notice as no further processing by Transport Canada is required. Be sure to ask what sort of SFOC the provider holds and what if any lead time may be required before the actual aerial work can be done.
Also SFOCs are regionally granted, so ensure the operator you are looking to hire has one for your specific location as there are multiple regions across Canada. (more…)