Free Audit Work Program for Drone Operations

It is easier to modify an existing audit work program than to develop one from scratch.

View Drone Audit Work Program

This work program template allows you to get started right away. It provides the structure, the background explanations, risk descriptions and audit steps. You customize the template to your needs.

More than just a list of audit steps you get background explanations for each section, to help you and your team understand the risk environment in the correct context. This will allow you to meet the auditee with confidence and to add additional audit steps where necessary to address the particular circumstances of your organization’s situation.

Aviation, and this includes drones, is one of the worst areas in terms of technical language and incomprehensible abbreviations. I made sure that our audit work program is easy to understand.

This audit work program is actually a template. This means that it needs to be customized. Typically there will be areas which will be irrelevant for your drone operations and you will have to delete them.

The audit work program is tailored for organizations which operate drones with a maximum weight of 25kg or 55lb including batteries, fuel and payload. Once the drones or UAV get bigger than that, I recommend you get an expert to join your audit team.

Applicability and legal basis

Many sections and audit steps in the template go beyond barebone legal requirements and towards a risk-based, integrated system for safe drone operations. It is important to understand that ‘legal’, ‘not illegal’ and ‘safe’ are different concepts. Most drone laws are clearer about what must not be done than on what needs to be done to make drone operations safe and efficient.

The US released new rules for commercial drones in 2016. These regulations (14 CFR Part 107) influence other countries to adopt similar laws. In Europe, in 2018, the regulation of drones up to 150kg is still up to the member states of the European Union, but this is about to change.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is currently working on new drone laws and has already proposed a new regulatory framework for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

This audit work program was developed after careful review of the US law and the EASA proposal. In many areas, the rules are based on similar concepts, but where they differ, the audit steps will indicate the need to check against local laws.

For companies in the US, I added references to the specific paragraphs in 14 CFR Part 107 wherever audit steps are about legal compliance. This makes it easier for auditors to look at the original wording of the law if necessary. That’s how nice I am.

How to get a word document instead of the pdf?

Why can’t I just download the template as a word document and start working? Sorry for the hassle. I want to have your email address so I can spam you later. Maybe. You never know with free stuff on the web, right? You are an auditor with a critical mind – good, we can work together.

I collect the email addresses so I can ask you sometime later if you could send any feedback, so I can continue to improve the tool. Or I share some improvements made based on someone else’s feedback.

It’s early days, that’s why I am a bit pushy about the feedback thing. Once the template content has stabilized and I get bored sending out links this will change.

Thank you. Since this process has not been automated yet, don’t hold your breath after clicking Submit. Start working with the PDF. You should have the word document in your inbox shortly.

Why is it free? Good question. Originally the plan was to sell it, but at some point, I realized that I can reach more people by giving it away for free. I immediately liked the idea because this also meant that I did not have to deal with all the admin effort that comes with selling stuff online.

It also feels fair that I contribute something back to two industries that have been nice to me over the years: audit and aviation. It took me about three full weeks of work to write, rewrite and edit the thing.

So, be nice too and let me know if you find mistakes or omissions.


I have worked as internal audit director for international Fortune500 companies and I am a Certified Internal Auditor as well as a Certified Information Systems Auditor.