Hiring a Drone Operator to Sell Real Estate

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

Real Estate and aerial photography go hand-in-glove. One of the most competitive areas of the rapidly expanding commercial UAV industry is real-estate, and recent research has even shown that properties that feature aerial imaging in their marketing collateral generally sell between 20-30% more quickly than those that do not. In short, for Estate Agents, commercial drone operators are a dream come true. But all to often, as with other sectors of the industry, rogue operators are creating chaos where there should be harmony, and accidents where there should be safety. So if you’re an estate agent, and you are thinking about hiring a drone pilot, here are some things you should know!


1.Always ask to see permissions and insurance

Every legally qualified drone operator will have a copy of their permissions from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and a valid insurance certificate. They should have them ready for inspection whilst on-site and should also be able to send them via email. There are no circumstances I can imagine, under which a legal operator would not be able to show you these.


2.Ask to see risk assessments

A qualified commercial drone operator will perform 2 risk assessments. The first will be immediately upon you confirming a project, and the second will be when they arrive on-site. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of these for your records, or to ask them to talk you through it. The risk assessment should include the type of airspace being operated in, and also the telephone numbers of the local police station, Air Traffic Control and any other numbers pertinent to the project.


3.Landowner’s permission and minimum separation distances

In order to operate from any specific site, the commercial operator will need to be in possession of the landowner’s permission. This will be a signed form giving the commercial operator permission to take off and land from the site. If the property is in a built-up area, minimum separation distances come into effect. This means that the pilot must not fly within 50M of any vehicle, person or property not under their control (This distance increases to 150M is you are an amateur) In essence, the pilot will have to use some mapping software to calculate all of those properties that fall within a 50M radius and speak to the relevant resident to let them know what will be happening, when it will be happening, and also to preferably get a signature stating they understand the safety briefing they have been given, and do not mind UAV operating within their vicinity.


Tell take signs of a Del-Boy Operator


These things are what we would consider being minimums of professional practice.

Here are some tell-tale signs of a rogue operator


• Your hired operator turns up in a car with a Mavic Pro and has none of the above available for your inspection.

• They do not have any safety equipment with them

• They do not talk you through every step of the process

• They do not examine the site prior to operating and mitigate any on-site risk

• They charge 90% less than all of the other quotes you had (this is a dead give away)


We’ve all seen the chandelier episode of Only Fools and horses if you hire an illegal operator the star of the show could be you!



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