1. Certified Pilot. To fly a drone anywhere for money in the USA you need a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) Airman Certificate from the FAA. If you hire a drone pilot ask to see their Airman Certificate. If they are not certified you could be opening up yourself to litigation and fines.
2. Drone Insurance. Make sure your drone pilot has specific drone liability insurance to protect both them and your company. A good drone pilot should be able to provide you proof of insurance before they start your job.
3. Hobbyist Drone Pilots do not need a certificate from the FAA but if they are flying for money or any purpose that benefits them financially they could be fined and face litigation.
4. Drone Registration. All drones must be registered with the FAA. To keep people responsible the FAA calls for all drones to be registered through their website. There are separate registrations for hobbyist and for commercial unmanned aircraft.
5. Drone Safety. All pilots must follow these general safety rules. You can not fly over 400ft high, in controlled airspace, over people, at night or beyond your line of site. There are a few exceptions to the rules and some require a special waiver from the FAA. You also must check to make sure you are not flying in controlled airspace. Note that the entire city of San Luis Obispo is in Class D airspace and you can not fly legally without permission from the airport.
The FAA may relax the commercial drone pilot rules with time but for now it's best to cover yourself and ask the right questions before you hire a drone pilot for your next project. Dennis Swanson at Studio 101 West is fully certified by the FAA as a commercial drone pilot. For more info check out our website.
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