• Paul Cusick

Hiring a drone pilot and the law

If you are looking to hire a Drone Pilot  /  Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) company, there are some important legal requirements that you need to be aware of.              

The pilot you hire legally needs to :              

  • Have current certification from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This is currently called the PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations).

  • Have valid Public Liability Insurance.

We provide a check list to help you choose the right company: We hope this helps raise your awareness of the laws that surround this new and exciting industry and that this information will help you keep within the law.

Check list Legal Requirements

  • Ask to see the pilot’s CAA PfCOs.

  • Ask the pilot whether the job is in CAA controlled airspace.  All commercial pilots must have prior CAA authorisation to fly in controlled airspace.

  • Ask the pilot for a copy of their Public Liability Insurance. If you’ll be working on a more complex project, or one where risk is involved, be sure to get an Additional Insured Endorsement with your company’s name listed.


  • Ask the pilot about their registration with the Information Commisioner's Office. ICO. There may be data privacy issues, as legislated in the Data Protection Act, that need addressing. Click here for ISO statement regarding drones.

  • Ask about rights to photographs and footage.  If privacy or nondisclosure is of interest to you, be sure to take appropriate steps to protect your property and images before work begins.

  • Ask the pilot about their experience.  Is this their full time job?  How long have they been in business?  How many drones are in their fleet?  Do they have backup equipment if there is a failure?

  • Ask the pilot about their safety record.  Have they ever crashed a drone or had an incident on a job?  Do they fly with a Visual Observer?

  • Ask about their operation's manual and ask to see a copy of their flight logs. Good pilots keep records.

  • Check the pilot is able to provide you with site specific risk assessment and method statements (RAMS).

A good pilot will have quick and simple answers to these questions. 

Am I OK If I Hire Someone Who Isn't Certified And Insured?

Would you hire a gas fitter to repair your gas boiler who wasn't Corgi registered? OK, say you did and your boiler blew up, would your insurance cover you?


So why should it be any different if you hire a company to do some aerial photography for you?

Put it another way, how many times has your computer frozen? How many times has your mobile phone crashed? A drone is a piece of hardware that flies. What happens if it glitches in flight and someone is injured?


Do you think you would avoid prosecution if it could be shown you took the cheap option and hired an unqualified and uninsured pilot? You wouldn't. You will be held responsible.

I've Got the Photographs And Video Online And Everything Went Fine. What's the Problem? 

A trained eye can look at drone footage and determine if it's been filmed legally. If you are showing or promoting aerial footage do you have all the correct paperwork in place to verify who filmed it? More importantly can you prove it was filmed legally if it was drawn to the attention of the Police by your competitors or neighbours?

If you are thinking of having drone aerial photos, footage, or mapping, please read the following again. We repeat and expand upon what was previously written but feel that some things need repeating. This is a relatively new industry and we hope to raise the publics awareness one reader at a time.


A drone flight that is not strictly recreational is considered commercial and is regulated by the CAA. This includes flights with no financial compensation. It could be considered that using your own aerial footage to sell your own house is a commercial operation because the photographs are being used for commercial gain.

If you ask for quotes from a drone operator and it's really cheap then ask yourself why?

We are fully trained and insured so you can rest assured when you use us. 

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