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Drones and surveyors – Should you undertake in-house training or hire in?

It’s a question that many building surveyors and property management companies ponder when looking to carry out drone inspections and drone surveys. Whilst some do decide to go down the route of in-house training, there are some key factors which mean that hiring in a drone service provider will, for the most, always be more advantageous.

What is required of a drone operator?

Most people see drones as a flying camera, however, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who govern UK airspace, view them as unmanned aircraft, which is where their name, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) comes from. As a result of this, operators of UAVs or drones as they’re most commonly known, are required to abide by aviation law and this comes with various restrictions.

The drone operator is required to gain Operational Authorisation (OA) from the CAA before being able to operate a drone, this requires classroom environment-based training and a practical flight test. Once completed, the drone operator is then required to complete an Operations Manual, this details how they plan to fly the drone, emergency procedures and pre/post flight assessments.

As with many industries, legislation is constantly changing to ensure that the safety of the drone industry is kept to a high standard, this legislation is updated and adapted more so in the drone industry as it’s still a relatively new technology and growing market. As a result, Operation Manuals need constant revisions to ensure they are kept up to date for their annual review by the CAA to approve the OA for the following year.

Training in-house

Whilst some large or multinational surveying and property management firms are able to employ a dedicated team in order to create a drone division for their business, for the vast majority of UK based businesses in the sectors, it isn’t practical.

This is because in addition to existing workloads, which are putting staff at near full capacity, surveyors would also need to ensure that Operation Manuals, flight records, pre-post planning procedures and paperwork are not only recorded but kept up to date with all relevant changes in the legislation.

This can be not only time-consuming and difficult to manage, but if a surveyor that’s been trained up to also be a qualified drone operator were to leave the business, that surveyor would take the comprehensive training with them to another company, costing the business more money in order to re-train their replacement. Whilst another company who has taken that surveyor with drone training will benefit from their extra skill set at your cost.

Collaborating with a drone service provider

Because of the above reasons, the vast majority of UK based surveyors and property management companies sub-contract drone requirements to a dedicated drone service provider. There are also other benefits, drone service providers do this day in day out as their profession, this brings the addition of more experience with operating drones as well as allowing the drone service provider to carry out all the necessary pre-post flight planning and flight permissions. It also passes the liability of insurance and keeping up to date with the current legislation to the drone service provider.

Finding a drone service provider

There are a number of drone companies that provide a drone inspection and drone survey service, but choosing the right one is key. Before looking at the quality of their work, ensure the drone company is Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) certified – they should be able to provide you with a valid Operational Authorisation (OA) to verify that they are able to fly legally. They should also have Public Liability Insurance specific to operating drones, this can only be obtained if they have provided a valid OA to the insurer.

Next, you should see examples of previous drone inspections carried out and how they intend on delivering the data/imagery to you, this way, you can confirm that they’re able to capture what’s required, rather than just ‘point and shoot’.

Why choose DroneCam Solutions?

DroneCam Solutions are Certified by the CAA and have been for the last 7 years, we hold a valid OA and have a Public Liability insurance Limit of Indemnity of £10m. We are proud to be accredited with Alcumus as part of their Safe Contractor scheme where our Health and Safety practices and processing procedures have been scrutinised by their auditors.

DroneCam Solutions are used by a number of respected regional and national building surveyors and property management companies.

Having undertaken in excess of 500 drone inspections and drone surveys on buildings ranging from small residential properties through to 315,000sqft industrial units, we are experienced in what we do.

If you would like more information on drone inspections and drone surveys, you can contact us here.