Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have nearly unlimited potential applications including law enforcement, research, film making, asset inspection and even one day soon deliveries.
Because many UAVs only weigh a few kilograms, some people make the mistake of viewing them as just another business tool —but drones are still aircraft, which means they bring a different set of risks and liabilities.
Drones have the potential to revolutionize business, but just as organizations are becoming aware of their advantages, they also need to be aware of the risks involved. Even if you are abiding by regulations, they could still be open to potential liability.
Here are a few things to ask when working your about to start working with drones:
- What are you flying? The make and model of the UAV provides insight to its capabilities and how it might be used.
- What do you plan to use it for? Is the UAV taking pictures or recording video, carrying out measurements or a payload? On top of the type of drone you'll have operating the use of it will help characterise your risk exposures.
- Who will be operating it? This is what we consider to be the most crucial decision point for most businesses. Like many other areas of your business this can go one of two ways; hire a specialist contractor to supply this service or develop the service in house and hire staff. If you choose to use a specialist service at this point read our blog on "how to choose the right drone operator"
The experience of the operator is a key factor when determining how to best start using a drone and also how to manage the risks. you should be asking: Does the operator have an aviation background or training on best practices? Has he or she ever flown a drone before?
- Where are you using it? There’s a significant difference between operating a UAV in an urban environment vs a rural area, as a higher concentration of people and property increases the possibility of an accident or claim. Add to that issues with airspace, air traffic control and line of site and the job becomes increasingly complex.
- Does your business have written policies for operation? If you are using the UAV for business, your company should have rules in place for who can operate the drone as well as where and when. Will operators require extra certifications such as a 102 exemption? be flying at night? What about in bad weather? How do you seek permission from a landowner? Does your company have procedures for coordinating with air traffic control facilities if operators need to fly near an aviation facility? All these factors are important considerations when looking at the risks involved.
Keep in mind that regulations/conditions will vary depending on the council and region of New Zealand your operating in.
Regardless of where the drone is operated, the main factor when insuring one is going to be the drone’s intended use. Having a good grip on the above points will help you understand the risk exposure and how it fits in your business.