We recently received an email from a friend with an email attachment from an aerial production company. They were marketing themselves as real estate videographers and indicated that they were 333 exempt and use only licensed pilots on their productions. They also indicated that they were fully insured. This company was out of state and our friend wanted to know if there was a way to verify their FAA status.
The FAA has made it very easy for anyone to verify a 333 exemption. Below is a link to the FAA’s site. Once you get to the page you can enter the company’s name in the search box and voila’ you know immediately if the company is legit or not. You can also see what type of operations they are authorized to fly. You can also look up someone’s airmen’s certificate number to make sure that they are in fact a licensed pilot. This is a bit more involved as you are required to enter your information in order to do the search, but if you really want to know who is flying on your project it is well worth the trouble. Once you have registered as a “requester” you can enter the “pilot’s” first and last name and will know if they are in fact a licensed pilot.
Unfortunately for our friend this company was neither 333 exempt nor flying with a licensed pilot. Whether or not they had insurance is easy enough to find out by asking them to supply you with a copy of their policy.
While there are plenty of qualified UAV/drone companies out there that have the proper documentation and followed the requirements of the FAA there are also plenty who blatantly lie about their status and just like anything else you will get what you pay for. They may be charging slightly less than a fully legitimate company, but is it really worth it to save a few bucks and run the risk of having a charlatan flying a drone over your property or on your production site?
It should be noted that effective August 29, 2016 the need for a 333 exemption will be eliminated with the roll out of the FAA’s Part 107 when UAV/drone companies will be required to pass a combined aeronautical knowledge test and UAS knowledge test at an authorized FAA testing center in order to fly commercially.
At FlyCam UAV, we have our 333 exemption, we use licensed pilots and we are fully insured.
The moral to this story is that you should do your homework before you hire any UAV /drone company. Make sure that they have a 333 exemption, an airmen’s certificate and insurance and after August 29th they should have passed the Part 107 test.
To search for 333 exemption:
To search for airmen’s certificate