Drone training FAQs

Q: Does my company need a PfCO?

A: Until the 31st December 2020, companies and individuals who intend to use drones in a commercial capacity, ie. for any form of financial gain, can only do so if they hold a PfCO from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Q: What happens from the 31st December?

A: To put it simply, the barrier to entry for drone adoption is about to get significantly lower for a wide range of operations. The new drone regulations will no longer be centred around whether the operation is for commercial purposes or not. Instead, they are based on the type of drone you’ll be using and the risks associated with the intended operation(s).

You can read about the main changes in our quick guide.

Q: What training will be required under the new drone regulations?

A: Fundamentally, there are now two training courses to achieve regulatory compliance; the course you’ll need to take depends on the weight of the drone and the assumed risks that are associated with your intended operation(s):

A2 Certificate of Competency

Generally speaking, if you’re going to be using a drone that weighs less than 2kg, for example a DJI Phantom 4 RTK, and your work will never require you to fly within 50 metres of uninvolved people, the A2 C of C is the only certification you’ll need.

General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC)

If any operation requires the use of a drone that weighs more than 2kg, for example a DJI Matrice 200 V2 Series, and requires you to fly within 150 metres of a built up area, you’ll be operating in what’s known as the ‘Specific Category’ and will require an Operational Authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The General Visual Line of Sight Certificate is the prerequisite of an Operational Authorisation. The same process is also required for sub 2kg drone operations that require operating privileges over and above those granted by the A2 C of C (eg. Extended Visual Line of Sight operations).

Q: What’s the process to obtain the right certificate?

A: All staff responsible for operating your drone(s) must attend a dedicated training course, which consists of theory modules and an assessment. In the case of the GVC course, this is followed by a practical flight assessment.

To obtain an Operational Authorisation, you must also complete a document known as an ‘Operations Manual’ – this document contains detail on the specific tasks that your staff will be conducting, the drone equipment being used, and the procedures that you’ve put in place to ensure a safe operation.

Upon successful completion of the training and Operations Manual, you’ll be in a position to complete the online application for a ‘Standard Operational Authorisation’, with payment of the respective application fee (currently £257), to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Q: My staff have never used drones – is this a problem?

A: Absolutely not! As long as your staff commit fully to all elements of the training programme, they’ll become qualified drone pilots in no time at all.

Q: How can my staff prepare for the training?

A: Once enrolled, we provide your staff with an online pre-course study guide that prepares them for the instructor-led parts of the training. To get the most from the training and to improve the chances of a first-time pass, we strongly recommend that they spend approximately 20 hours on this study material.

Q: Where is the training delivered?

A: All theory elements are delivered remotely, via “virtual classroom”. Any practical training and flight assessments are delivered at a location of your choice (subject to approval of site suitability).

Q: How long does it take for my company to get certified?

A: The A2 C of C is one day from start to finish. The GVC course is run over two days of theory training, followed by a 1.5 hour flight assessment.

For Operational Authorisations, as long as the application is complete and error-free, the CAA will have it processed in line with their published service levels, which is currently 10 working days.

Q: Do we need to obtain drone insurance for the training?

A: This is not a requirement until your staff reach the practical flight assessment. At this point, you must ensure that a commercial drone insurance policy is in place on the day of the assessment. The good news is that we offer our customers this service free of charge, as part of our onboarding process.

Q: Is your drone training COVID-19 secure?

A: Yes! Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve implemented measures to ensure that all courses are delivered in a COVID secure environment. Primarily, this is made possible by conducting all theory elements of the course via virtual classroom, meaning you still get the benefit of instructor-led learning, but delivered in a completely safe environment. Where practical training and/or flight assessments are required, delivery is at your premises with group sizes no bigger than 3 people – this makes it easy to maintain social distancing throughout.


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