Chief Remote Pilot: Should I in-house or outsource?
The Chief Remote Pilot (CRP) is the single most important role in establishing and building a successful drone program. Not only do they have significant regulatory obligations, they have an important leadership position to develop operational processes, quality standards and individuals pilot skills.
What is a Chief Remote Pilot?
The chief remote pilot is responsible for training and overseeing pilots, ensuring compliance with regulations, and selecting the appropriate drone for each task.
Can the CRP be from outside the organisation (i.e. outsourced)?
As previously noted the CRP is a key individual responsible for the safety of an organisation's drone operations. While the regulations specify the responsibilities and qualifications of a CRP, they do not explicitly state that the CRP must be an employee of the ReOC holder.
Therefore, it is possible to have an outsourced CRP, provided they meet CASA's requirements and can fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
Some factors that would go into determining if the individual can meet their obligations would be the number of organisations they hold the role of Chief Remote Pilot with and the volume of Remote Pilots under their control. For example if they were overseeing 10 ReOC's with 200+ pilots in total it would be unlikely they would be able to fulfil their duties for all organisations simultaneously.
What are the benefits of using an outsourced CRP?
Experience and knowledge
An outsourced CRP brings a wealth of experience and a ready-made expertise in navigating the complex regulatory and operational landscape of drone aviation.
This expedited access to expertise saves time and resources that would otherwise be spent on training an in-house team, while also mitigating risks associated with non-compliance or operational mishaps.
Furthermore, an external CRP can introduce a fresh, unbiased perspective on operational efficiencies, safety protocols, and technological advancements.
Additionally, the flexible nature of outsourcing allows for a tailored approach, providing drone operational oversight only when needed, thus offering a cost-effective solution.
The outsourced model provides an avenue for internal teams to focus on core business operations while the CRP focuses on the nuanced drone operational realm, ensuring that drone programs are launched and managed to the highest standards of safety and compliance.
What are the potential downsides of using an outsourced CRP?
Depending on the arrangement, outsourcing a CRP could potentially be more expensive in the long run than having an in-house CRP, especially if the organisation has a high volume of drone operations.
Confidentiality and Security Concerns
Entrusting sensitive or proprietary information to an external party always carries a degree of risk. There could be concerns regarding the confidentiality and security of organisational data.
An outsourced CRP may not be as flexible or adaptable to changing circumstances or organizational needs as an in-house CRP. Their availability might also be limited, especially in urgent or unexpected situations.
In case of an incident or non-compliance, liability issues could arise. It may be more complex to navigate these issues with an outsourced CRP as compared to an in-house staff member.
Knowledge Transfer and Continuity
If the outsourced CRP ends their contract, there might be a lack of continuity and knowledge transfer to the next CRP, which could potentially disrupt operations.
How can some of the potential downsides be mitigated?
One potential option to mitigate the downsides is to use the external person in their capacity as a Senior Remote Pilot (SRP) rather than a CRP.
In this scenario the person is playing more of a supporting role rather than a leading role. The CRP is still ultimately responsible for all operations but can fall back to an experienced SRP for support and guidance.
So should I in-house or outsource the CRP role?
Usurpingly, there is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately it will depend on the needs of the organisation and the current state of your drone program. Here are the combinations we have seen work over the different phases of many drone programs.
Starting Phase (Less than 5 remote pilots)
In-house or Outsourced CRP
Scaling Phase (5-30 remote pilots)
In-house CRP supported by outsourced SRP
Sustaining Phase (30+ remote pilots)
In-house CRP supported by in-house SRP's
The CRP role is critical to successful drone programs. The role can be fulfilled by an external individual if required. The pro's and con's of using an outsourced CRP are varied and require careful consideration. Furthermore, the question of an external CRP is not black or white. It will likely change over time as your drone program matures.
If you have any questions or would like to see how FlyFreely helps create and simplify the job of a CRP, feel free to click below to reach out to us today!