Guest Post – Chris Proudlove, Vice President of Commercial Insurance at Global Aerospace
With drones entering the public conscious (not always in a positive context), companies wishing to explore their potential are faced with a myriad of questions. The most common are simply “should we develop our own drone program” and, if not, “how do we go about finding the right service provider?”
Regulation, safety and operation effectiveness in particular are the three things that appear to raise the most concern amongst potential users, writes Chris Proudlove, an expert on risk management and insurance for drones. All three areas create challenges that require significant expertise and investment to overcome.
With regulation in the balance in the US, it is becoming increasingly hard to justify embarking on the 333 process. If a company started to put together a successful application now, it would probably be no earlier than June 2016 before the exemption was granted, by which time the Federal Aviation Administration will hopefully have Part 107 in place.
Safety management is a significant concern and one that many companies are finding easier to outsource to professional operators. But what does safety look like for a drone company? Simply complying with their exemption? Using trained and experienced operators? Following a Standard Operating Procedure?
Risk managers from all areas of industry are struggling to get to grips with drones. How many are already being operated? What kinds of safety procedures are being followed?
An additional concern is the complexity surrounding the choice of platform and payload. The pace of change in the industry often means that today’s must have system is tomorrow’s redundant technology.
So why go to the trouble of investing in an in-house drone infrastructure when numerous companies are developing their services to perform the tasks for you? There are certainly many compelling reasons to choose external providers to perform the services.
On the surface, this move towards professional service providers is great news for the industry. After all, a rapidly expanding customer base is what every industry needs to help it grow and prosper. But dig a little deeper and what you find, encouraged in part by intense media scrutiny, is an industry sector with some maturing to do, especially in the area of safety management. Customers are becoming better equipped to understand the industry and demand more of their chosen provider.
Furthermore, the legal framework needed to establish appropriate contractual responsibilities and obligations in the industry needs development, especially between drone companies.
These are some of the significant observations in a new white paper, “Contracting With and Between UAS Operators” published in October 2015 by Global Aerospace, a leading international aviation and aerospace insurance provider, and Dentons, an international law firm expert in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The paper aims to benefit both service provider and purchaser by assessing what the drone company should be doing to establish its credentials to a prospective buyer and what that buyer might look for when evaluating the myriad of options available. Additionally, advice is offered relating to how legally enforceable contracts can help protect drone manufacturers, operators and users
Offered free of charge, the white paper can be accessed here.