There is a lot more to flying a drone than just knowing the controls. The FAA requires an extensive list of rules to follow for safely and legally operating a commercial drone. If the pilot is charging someone for the use of their drone than the pilot must have a commercial FAA part 107 certificate validating their right to compensation. If they lack this certificate then they may be vulnerable to various penalties, including “a warning letter, suspension/revocation of a license, denial of an application for a pilot’s license, civil penalties (fines), and incarceration for criminal convictions” (lidarnews.com). The intensity of these penalties vary from violation to violation, but more times than not they result in warnings or fines. Some other examples of violations include unsafe flying, like flying at night, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, flying over crowds of people, or entering restricted airspaces. Not having the drone that weighs over 55 pounds registered with the FAA or flying without a pilot’s license are also causes for a penalty.
Considering how new commercial drone flying still is, many of these laws are not strictly enforced. However, after these laws become common knowledge in the field it is likely we will see harsher enforcement. If you are looking to hire someone who will be piloting a drone for a paid project, make sure to ask if they are certified to do so. Not abiding by these legal regulations could result in serious fines. Businesses like Definition Films who are already registered and certified are much safer options than the latter.
Some people have still been hiring unlicensed drone operatores because they are cheaper. But if you take into consideration that the hiring agency could be liable if an accident occurs should far out-weigh the additional cost of hiring a licensed part 107 drone operator. If you want to learn more about the laws given by the FAA, click here.