Pros and Cons of owning your own ROC

There are pros and cons of being in possession of a Part 101 RPAS Operator license (ROC) — besides the obvious one, which is making money of course.

For the unversed, the Civil Aviation Authority Part 101 Operator license is like having a driver’s license for commercial drone pilots. For those who are already in possession of this sought-after license, the freedom to fly your remotely piloted aircraft is literally at your fingertips. However, it is important to always remember the rules that go along with it. This includes flying both socially as well as for commercial gain.

Here are some pros and cons that are worth considering regarding the Drone/RPAS Market, and having your own SACAA approved ROC:

PROS 

  1. You can operate as an independent Commercial Drone business entity.
  2. You will have full access to the Drone Market which includes Tender opportunities that allow your company to compete on a level reserved for those who have endured the ROC 5-Phase application process.
  3. Your ROC gives your business credibility and you can legally advertise your Commercial drone services on all social media channels/platforms.
  4. You can legally operate under what is called an `umbrella’ ROC. However, be prepared to give away much of your hard-earned profits to the owner of this approved ROC. You will have to sign an agreement with them before they allow you to operate commercially under their ROC organisation. Your RPAS would also have to be registered under their ROC in order to operate legally. Therefore, owning your own ROC means you will be earning more money and you can be in the position of offering someone an ‘umbrella’ ROC – the power will be in your hands!

Remember that ultimately the knowledge you have acquired while following the ROC 5-Phase application process will be considered as Applied Power going forward.

CONS

  1. Even if you have an approved ROC you will initially be allowed to fly your RPAS during the hours of daytime only, which is classified as 15 minutes before sunrise to 15 minutes after sunset.
  2. There is plenty of paperwork and extra certification involved in the process and you will have to exercise patience when making your formal ROC application.

TIPS

Here are some useful tips to consider if you are thinking about starting your own ROC and becoming a Dronepreneur:

  • Familiarize yourself with the CAA’s requirements/regulationsfor commercial drone pilots. All work that involves flying a drone in South Africa for any kind of compensation, including “in kind compensation” (i.e., work for trade), is considered as being commercial operations by the SACAA. 
  • Learn about the different types of dronesout there, from cheap starter drones, to camera drones, to high end professional drones.
  • Do some initial business planning, including drawing up an initial budget, identifying the niche you might want to work in, and thinking through what marketing and sales might look like for your drone business.
  • Consider working toward becoming a skilled Drone pilot.
  • Look into getting drone insurance (including 3rd Party Liability Insurance) which will not only give you peace of mind, but also help professionalize your operation.
  • There are 6 posts that need to be filled in the company, i.e.:
    • Accountable Manager/CEO
    • Quality Manager
    • Safety Officer/Manager
    • Security Manager
    • Responsible Person: Aircraft
    • Responsible Person: Operation.
    • You will need at least 2 persons in your Company, of which one would need to have Safety and Quality Management Certification (the person allocated to Safety and Quality Management cannot be the Accountable Manager/CEO).

Should you wish to obtain more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.