Questions to ask your Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA or drone) operator before engaging their services:

  • Operating Safety Case

    Does the operator have an operating safety case which allows them to operate beyond a standard permission?
    Our Operating Safety Case allows us to operate our Yuneec H920 Tornado within 20 meters instead of the standard 50 meters.
    This means we can fly within congested areas much easier than operators with a standard 50 meter permission.

    Our take off and landing area is only 10 meters, compared to 30 meters for a standard permission.

  • Insurance

    What level of insurance does the operator have?
    Is this enough to cover any accidents that may occur?

    Our public liability insurance is for £5,000,000.

  • Crew numbers

    Do they use single or dual operators?
    Do they bring extra crew as spotters in when necessary?

  • Crew capability

    Are the crew capable of carrying out the task?
    Do they have the required permissions to fly the mission?  i.e. Night flying permits, operating in a congested area, etc.

  • SUSA Suitability for task

    Is the Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA drone) suitable for the task you require it to complete?
    What weight category does the aircraft fall into?
    Is it sub-7kg (for UK regs) or sub-20kg?
    If working abroad in Europe, is it sub-5kg or sub-20kg?

  • Aircraft Redundancy

    Does the SUSA have redundancy on motors?
    If so, will it remain in full control, or spiral around the dead motor?
    Will the SUSA continue to fly in control if a motor fails?
    Does the SUSA fly with more than one battery?
    Will the SUSA continue to fly if a battery fails?
    Does the aircraft have a deployable parachute in the event of a motor or battery failure?

  • Safety

    What safety practices does the operator put in place?
    Does the operator carry out risk assessments?
    Has the operator written their own Operations Manual?

  • Flight times

    How long can the SUSA fly with the payload you require?
    Is the flight time given theoretical time or mission time?
    Do the flight times allow a margin of safety as contingency?
    Are these times suitable for your needs?

  • 360 degree gimbal and retractable landing gear

    Does the SUSA have a 360 degree gimbal?
    If so, does the landing gear retract out of shot?

  • Payload or camera platform

    Is the payload or camera suitable quality for your requirements?
    If not, can one be fitted?

  • Recording Format

    What format will the rushes (video shots) be recorded in? (4k, HD, MOV, Mpeg, 25p, 50p, Pal, NTSC, etc.)
    What is the recorded bitrate of the video footage?
    What format do you require the footage or images to be delivered in?

  • Photo format

    How many million pixels will the photos be shot in?
    What dimensions or aspect ratio will the photos be?
    What format will the photos be shot in?

  • Distortion free lens

    Is the lens on the camera distortion free?
    If no, will any photos or video require fixing in post before the images are usable?
    If so, who is doing this additional work?
    Is there a fee attached to any work to rectify the images?

  • Zoom lens

    Does the camera have a zoom lens which can be operated in flight?
    If so, what is the zoom range?
    Is it an optical zoom or digital?

  • Video link range

    What is the range of any video link?
    Is this suitable to carry out the job satisfactorily?

  • Client monitor

    Will you be able to see the images in real time as the mission is flown?
    Will you have your own monitor, or will you have to share?
    If a monitor is available for you is it daylight viewable?

  • Travel and subsistence

    Is travel and subsidence (food and drink) included, or is there an additional fee?
    What are any travel day fees?
    What are any accommodation costs?

  • Privacy policy

    Does the operator have a privacy policy to safeguard against taking and using images of people without their permission?

  • Editing

    What are the fees for editing any photos or video?

  • Delivery

    How will any photos or footage be delivered?  Memory stick, dropbox, SD card, etc?

  • Fees

    How does the company operate its scheme of charges?
    Does the company charge for a feasibility study or planning stage?
    Do they have a non-returnable deposit scheme in place?
    Can you open a 30 day account, or does the company expect payment up front?

  • Cancellation

    What happens if the weather is unsuitable to fly?
    What is the company’s policy on cancellation?