This is a guide for pilots who want to make a serious business out of their drone flying skills. We’ll keep a total of the costs involved for each step. Right now all you need to know is, it won’t be pretty!
Ground Training School
The first thing you’ll need is to complete your ground school training. There are lots of different courses out there and you’ll find a Ground Training Schools. We did ours with the lads from Flyryte. They’re super experienced and explain everything from the ground up (pun totally intended). We did ours over a weekend with them in the Red Cow Hotel but, they’ve now moved to IADT. They covered everything from drone safety to weather patterns. It’s basically everything you’ll need to know.
Ground School: €600
Preparing You Operations Manual
After passing this you’ll need to prepare your operations manual, this can be quite time-consuming but a good template will get you off to a great start. We received some help with this in the ground school course.
If you have a partner in your drone business, like I do, I’d highly recommend you get them to do it!
The Flight Test
The flight test is potentially the most nerve-racking part of the whole process for a young flyer. We did our test back in 2014, what a year! Back then it was being conducted by an inspector from the Irish Aviation Authority, who fought in Vietnam! We also had a visit from a rescue helicopter during our flight! Honestly, we weren’t that bad to require a rescue lads.
These days, the test is conducted by the flight school of your choice so, having a civilian tester may make the process a little less daunting. The current flight test will examine your ability to get your drone to the maximum range that you’re applying for. In our case that was a distance of 500m and an altitude of 120m.
You also have to demonstrate your ability to deal with a screen failure and to be able to get your drone home safely in the event of system communications or GPS failure. These are the most challenging parts of the exam, additionally, you’ll have to be able to prove your ability to get your drone to track, follow and yaw (turn) correctly.
As you can imagine lots of practice is required ahead of the exam. If you don’t fly with a co-pilot, I’d recommend teaming up with someone from your ground school class to practice.
Flight Test: €450
Make sure your public liability is solid. This is obviously the key concern in the unlikely event of an accident. We have had jobs that require an increased level of Public Liability and, O’Loughlin’s have always been helpful in making that happen, for an additional fee (😭).
IAA Aerial Work Permit
Congratulations! Now you can get your permit from the IAA. Fill in the forms and send them away. It might take a couple of weeks but then you are ready to apply to fly in a controlled air zone.
IAA Aerial Work Permit: €???
So the burning question, is it worth going for the permit. For us looking back the three years it has been but for many its simply not a viable option.
If you’re a wedding or corporate photographer/videographer and you want to supplement your income then getting a drone and flying it within the standard limitations will give you enough scope to offer it as a service.
A press photographer may be looking to use it for spot news the same applies as you need a lead in time for permission to fly in controlled airspace at the moment.
If you want to setup a business and your main focus is drone photography/videography then getting a permit is totally worth it.
Getting a permit is the gateway to flying in restricted zone but it doesn’t offer complete freedom.
An application still needs to be made to the IAA to fly in a restricted zone ahead of time. This will be covered in detail in next weeks blog post.
Ground School: €600
Flight Test: €450
IAA Aerial Work Permit: