You might be surprised to hear that since 2016, the FAA has already issued over 100,000 Remote Pilot Certificates. (Also known as Part 107 commercial drone licenses.) According to those numbers, that comes out to an average of 2,000 licensed commercial drone pilots per-state in the United States. So, how can you stand out in the crowd as a commercial drone pilot and appeal to bigger clients?
In this tutorial, we’ll talk about some measures you can take to increase your credibility as a drone pilot. Alternatively, if you’re a producer looking to hire a drone pilot for your video production, you’ll want to check the criteria we cover in this tutorial before making your next decision.
Remote Pilot Certificate
If you want to become a commercial drone pilot, the first qualification you’ll need is a Remote Pilot Certificate. As I mentioned earlier, the FAA has already issued over 100,000 Remote Pilot Certificates. Even so, you still have to have one of these certificates in order to conduct business legally. You can schedule an exam appointment at a Knowledge Testing Center.
Register Your Drones
There’s another legal requirement for commercial drone pilots. You’ll need to register your drones with the FAA for (Part 107) commercial use. You can do this on the FAA’s DroneZone website. Registration costs $5 per aircraft and is valid for 3 years. Once you’ve registered your drones, I recommend creating a PDF document with a copy of your commercial drone license and drone registration certificates. Then you can then easily forward that PDF document to clients during negotiation.
Aviation Liability Insurance
The next measure you can take to increase your credibility is to secure aviation liability insurance. This means you’re covered if you have a drone accident involving other people or property. Aviation insurance is almost always required by large-scale clients because liability risk is too high without it. Securing aviation liability insurance is probably the best way you can stand out in the crowd of other drone pilots. (Unmanned Risk Management is a popular drone insurance provider that I’ve used.)
FAA Airspace Authorizations
Even with a Part 107 license, you’ll still probably need FAA approval before filming in many locations. You get this approval with a FAA Airspace Authorization. Typically, you’ll need one if you are filming within five miles of any airport. (Airports are surrounded by class E airspace and above.) You can apply for instant Airspace Authorizations through the FAA’s LAANC program.
Part 107 Waivers
Another way you can appeal to bigger clients is to obtain FAA Part 107 Waivers. These waivers allow you to legally operate beyond the scope of a Part 107 licensed pilot. With these waivers, you can legally operate your drone at night, fly above 400ft, fly out of your line of sight, and more. Since Part 107 waivers can take quite a while to process, already having those waivers in place is a big perk for clients. You can apply for Part 107 Waivers on the FAA DroneZone website after you create a user account.