Getting your Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) can seem like quite a daunting step for someone who hasn’t flown a drone before or now wants to get a commercial qualification. At UAVAir with our blend of airline pilots and commercial drone operators, we want to make sure that you enter the world of aviation confident and able to utilise the drone training skills gained on our course.
Therefore below are a list of the frequently asked questions we have been asked so far. If you do not see an answer to a question you may have, please Contact Us, email us at email@example.com, call us on +44 (0)208 0450 508 or on Facebook where we are also available to answer your queries at any time.
If after reading some of these FAQs and want to go ahead and book a course with us, click here.
To get started click on a subject below and find read more about our offerings.
Where do I start?
Do I need to provide my own drone?
I'm interested in drones and getting licensed, where do I start?First of all, welcome to UAVAir. In answer to your question, that depends on how much experience you have, on our “Which Course” there is information that can help you decide. Alternatively, get in touch to discuss your needs with a member of our team.
Where can I do the course?
Can I complete the Flight Assessment before I have written an OPS manual?
The short answer is YES, it is possible.
At UAVAir we can provide you with a generic set of procedures to enable you to complete the Flight Assessment before completing your own company specific ops manual.
We think this is beneficial as it will give our students the opportunity to learn exactly what is required and what works well and not so well, before writing their own ops manual.
Can you offer bespoke courses?
In surveying our instructors have NEBOSH, within Film and TV we have Hollywood experience, for Camera Operating Courses our instructors have digital film-making and commercials processing understanding, from policing we have as external consultants ex Chief-Superintendents and more besides.
Some providers are cheaper, so why should I go with you?
What if I am disabled, e.g. Dyslexic? Can I do the course?
Unable to find an answer to your question?
Licences & Permits
What is a PfCO?
Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO)
The PfCO is split into four different classes and these are defined by aircraft type and aircraft weight:
- Rotary 0-7kg
- Rotary 7-20kg
- Fixed Wing 0-7kg
- Fixed Wing 7-20kg
In order to be granted a PfCO the operator must satisfy the following requirements:
- Demonstration of pilot competence (theoretical knowledge and piloting ability)
- Operations Manual approval
- PfCO application – CAA form SRG1320
If the operator wants to change or add a different class of aircraft to their PfCO there is no requirement to redo the theoretical knowledge as this is the same for all classes, they only have to do a flight assessment for the class required.
The requirements for the PfCO are usually achieved by completing a CAA approved the course, at an NQE (National Qualified Entity) Such as UAVAir.
At UAVAir we strive to be as flexible as possible in order to provide you with the best opportunity to achieve your PfCO. There are four options that are available to facilitate this:
- Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (Fully Integrated) – Complete all the requirements for the PfCO (including the Flight Assessment) on this 3 day course.
- Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (Modular) – Same course as the fully integrated option but come back at a later date to complete the Flight Assessment.
- Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (Abbreviated) – This one day conversion course is for anyone who already holds a form of aviation licence. It includes an RPAS focus theory summary and the relevant Flight Assessment.
- Bespoke Training Course – Whatever your business needs UAVAir can work with you to develop a bespoke training course that achieves all your objectives to add drone operations to your business.
A detailed description of the course contents and requirements are available on the Courses page.
Do you offer BNUC & RPQ qualifications?
At UAVAir we offer a UAQ – Unmanned Aircraft Qualification which in effect is the same qualification, in the eyes of the UK CAA, as a BNUC, RPQ or similar. All these qualifications whether it being a BNUC or a UAQ will allow you to apply for a PfCO with the CAA or work under someone else’s PfCO.
Every course needs to comply with certain standards issued by the CAA, however, every course might offer different elements of training. At UAVAir we focus on both the theoretical element but even more so on the practical element, giving our students the best possible chance to succeed as a professional Drone operator.
Do I need a PfCO?
However, should you choose to be employed by a current operator who already has a CAA issued PfCO, then there is no requirement for you to apply for PfCO yourself, as you can simply be added as an approved pilot to your employers PfCO.
You can read more here “How to get qualified to fly drone commercially“
How do I apply for my PfCO?
The CAA costs for this application are for each different type of drone you register that you will be flying and are as follows:
£173 initial application charge for all aircraft under 20kg.
£130 for each annual renewal.
See the CAA website for up to date price information
What is the Licence/Qualification called?
You will, however, come across various qualifications, such as our UAQ – Unmanned Aircraft Qualification, and similar ones like the BNUC and RPQ offered by other training schools/NQE’s. These can all be considered to be the same, as they aren’t official licences like you will know them from manned aviation. However, they are fully approved by the CAA as a proof of competency, which will allow you to either apply for a PfCO or work as a Drone pilot under someone else’s PfCO.
So to sum it up, below 150kg you will not need a licence to fly commercially, but you do however need to convince the CAA that you can do so safely which is normally achieved by passing a CAA approved Drone training course. Many insurance companies will also require you to have passed an approved course, before issuing you with a commercial insurance.
You can read more here “How to get qualified to fly Drones commercially”
How long will it take me to gain my PfCO?
The online learning package we suggest an absolute minimum of one week’s study (8 modules to cover) prior to attending any ground school. 3 days of residential attendance then at least 2 weeks working on your Operations Manual. So if you allow one month (weather permitting for the Flight Assessment) of hard work to complete all the required elements it is possible to gain the UAQ with UAVAir.
Do you help me with the Operations Manual?
UAVAir give guidance and a Operations Manual template and we help you all the way to get a robust Operations Manual but in reality, this has to be your own work and this part of the process is designed not to be rushed. It is a procedure designed to make you think about safety in your own operation, the CAA themselves gave us this guidance as an NQE on Operations Manuals:
• The CAA have put our outline template Ops Manual on the website. Students and NQEs can use this, or offer their own incomplete template to help students understand what is needed.
• NQEs should not offer a ‘completion’ service for the Ops Manual with very marginal student input or offer a fully ‘CAA approved’ Ops Manual for students who think they don’t have the time or feel they don’t have the required knowledge or expertise to complete a comprehensive and suitable Operations Manual. Students are going on the course precisely to get this knowledge and expertise and should learn through doing.
• The CAA does not ‘approve’ SUA Ops Manuals in the same way as we do with parts of an AOC Ops Manual. We accept the Ops Manual along with the appropriate flight assessment results from the NQE, as part of the overall NQE recommendation of Pilot Competency.
I understand that you no doubt get students who are all-at-sea with the whole concept of an Ops Manual at the beginning of a course, and some who take some time to get into it or who are not used to compiling similar documents. To that end, it is understandable that you want to get them up to speed since we all want a competent, confident pilot at the end of the course. However, they will not build their confidence, or realise the benefits of standardised procedures and the worth of an Operations Manual, if they themselves to do not participate in its composition.
How do I book my course?
If after reading some of these FAQs you want to go ahead and book a course with us, click here or if you have any problems, contact us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +44 (0)208 0450 508.
Making a booking is simple. Just complete our course booking form online or give us a call.
How much does it cost?
Our different prices for obtaining the UAQ from UAVAir can be found here “Prices”
I’m worried I won’t be ready for the flying skills test on the 3rd day
We believe in not having any surprises when you sign up for the UAQ, and this is also true of the Flight Assessment. Once you “Book Now Link” You will get access to our online learning portal. One of the documents in there is the skills test/flight assessment Candidate Guide. Our policy is similar to a car driving test; although you know you will have to do an Emergency Stop, 3-point turn that does not make the exam any easier but puts you at ease and you know if you will be able to perform the skills correctly and successfully. We tell you the exact format of the Flight Assessment which covers all the manoeuvres necessary to confirm to us that you will be able to fly your drone safely in a commercial environment.
What if I fail the theory exam?
UAVAir allows candidates one free re-sit (one which may be taken at the start of day 3 of an integrated test if time allows). Any future ones will be charged but can be performed remotely to avoid you having to wait for the next UAQ course.
What if I fail the Flight Assessment?
UAVAir does charge for a re-sit but due to the size and location of our instructing team, if you are unable to wait until the next UAQ course to perform your Flight Assessment we can arrange an exam at other venues.
Can I do the UAQ on a fixed-wing aircraft?
Yes, many of our venues such as racecourses have been chosen to have a large site assessment area suitable for fixed-wing assessments.
Insurance & Legal
Do I need insurance to undertake the UAVAir UAQ Course?
Insurance will not be required to book a course, to complete the online learning or the classroom based ground school. However, you will be required to have the appropriate insurance in place for the Flight Assessment on day 3, so if you are attending the Fast-Track course you will need it in place before you start the 3-day course. There are 2 routes to getting insurance with UAVAir and upon booking a course we will explain the two different options to you.
What is the law when flying a drone privately?
- You are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight, so you must take time to understand the rules.
- You must check the drone for damage before each flight, and make sure that all components are working correctly.
- You must keep the drone insight at all times when flying.
You are responsible for avoiding collisions with other people or objects – including aircraft.
Don’t fly your unmanned aircraft within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height. Also, stay well clear of airports and airfields.
Think about what you do with any images you obtain as you may breach privacy laws. Details are available from the Information Commissioner’s office.
If you intend to use an drone for any kind of commercial activity, you must get a ‘Permission’ from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
You can read more here “Drone users must observe the rules of the sky”