Internal control self-assessments are a very cost-effective tool to get started with improving or reviewing the internal control status of drone operations.
The below list of question is written in such a way that each question can be answered with “yes”, “no” or “not applicable”, which makes them easier to answer and summarize.
Customize the questions to your operation and put them in questionnaire form to get started. Discuss the list of people to include in the self-assessment with the intended recipients of the self-assessment results.
- Have you participated in a company-wide drone risk assessment?
- Have company drone risk mitigation plans been implemented fully?
- Is there a person in charge to oversee and set standards for all drone operations in the company?
- Is there a system in place that ensures that only certified drone pilots are allowed to fly company drones?
- Are incident and near-accident reports generated and distributed to senior management?
- Has the Health & Safety function ever reviewed drone operations?
- Has the Internal Audit department ever reviewed drone operations?
- Is the corporate compliance function following up on the legal requirements related to drone operations?
- Have there been drone accidents in the past which caused human injuries?
- Have there been drone accidents in the past which caused significant damage to the drone itself or other property?
- Has the company received complaints from the community or from authorities regarding the use of drones?
- Is there a clear response plan for accidents involving a drone?
- Has the drone incident response plan been reviewed by the legal department especially in regards to the legal requirements to inform authorities of drone accidents?
- Is there a system in place to ensure that third-party drone service providers employ only qualified pilots to fly drones?
- Are third-party drone service providers adequately insured?
- Are company and third party drone pilots background checked before they are employed?
- Is HR involved in the administration of certification and currency requirements for drone pilots?
- Are there company-wide rules for the drug and alcohol testing of pilots and are these rules adhered to?
- Are all drones registered with authorities as required by law?
- Are drone activities logged in systematic form?
- Is drone maintenance work documented?
- Are drone missions planned and undergo a systematic approval process before drones are flown?
- Is physical access to drones restricted to qualified maintenance staff and pilots?
- Are fire risks related to Lipo batteries and their storage managed adequately?
If you can ask only one question, ask if only certified pilots are allowed to pilot drones. Certified pilots are aware of basic safety requirements and less likely to engage in high-risk behavior.
All the above questions apply in full also if you own the land over which the drones fly. Your company’s pilots need the same drone registrations and pilot licenses to operate drones over your own land (e.g. construction site, quarry, forest, warehouse) as they need over public land.
Be aware that someone who has been legally flying drones or remote-controlled airplanes as a hobby for many years may not have the required license to fly drones in a commercial setting (e.g. taking pictures of a company construction site). The legal requirements are very different in many jurisdictions.