What is a drone licence?

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How to get a drone licence in the UK

As an emerging technology, there is naturally some confusion around the rules and regulations for flying drones. We’re often asked do you need a licence to fly a drone? Who needs one? How do I get one? We have all the information you need to know. 

What is a drone licence?

Technically the term ‘drone licence’ is very misleading. The CAA do not license drone pilots. In the UK there is no such thing as a drone licence. However, there is a necessary permission put in place by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to regulate safety. The CAA issue operators a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) which can be considered similar to a drone licence and is needed for most drone pilot jobs.

Who needs the right permission?

At the moment, not everyone needs a PfCO in order to legally fly. If you are flying a consumer drone for recreational purposes, then you do not need a PfCO. Your drone however must be under 20kg in weight, and you must follow some regulations detailed in the Drone Code. Although no formal qualification is needed, you can’t fly within 150 metres of a congested area or within 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot.

If you are employed by a company to fly a drone for commercial purposes, then you or your company must have a PfCO. The drone laws in UK are covered in the Air Navigation Order (ANO) and regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. You can also find guidance in CAP722.

What needs to happen?

With an Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ) from UAVAir, you can provide evidence to the CAA, your employers, insurance, and authorities that you have been deemed sufficiently competent in the operation of a drone. Whilst also protecting you in the eyes of the law, this certification/ permission will equip you with the knowledge, skills and industry recognised credentials to secure wider project work and for any commercial drone pilot jobs that you may wish to apply for.

To gain a PfCO, for flying a drone for commercial purposes you will need to attend our UAQ course, which is the closest thing to a drone licence course but remember the CAA does not license drone pilots. 

It is important to make sure you attend a course that has been approved by the CAA. At UAVAir, we can teach you how to safely and efficiently operate at locations across the UK or for groups we can come to you. We also offer different training options tailored to your needs and we have trained over 1400 pilots.

We also offer bespoke flight training for those who want to learn how to fly the correct way, from the very beginning.

How much does it cost?

Our UAQ course is available at many locations around the UK and costs £999 + VAT. Additional pilots are charged at £899 + VAT. We can take payment online or issue an invoice upon request. We also offer a payment plan to spread the cost over four instalments to make a drone licence more affordable and spread the upfront capital expense. Read our blog here

There are a number of routes to satisfy the competency requirements for a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the CAA. By far the quickest and easiest is to undertake our Fast Track PfCO Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ). Not only does this satisfy the competency requirements of the CAA but you will also receive a ProQual certificate in Unmanned Operations. 

Who is ProQual?

ProQual Awarding Body was born out of the desire to give industries the opportunity of having the most up to date, often unique and most relevant qualifications for their employees. All of their Qualifications are industry driven and regulated by Ofqual, the Governing Body in England.

The regulations applicable to commercial drone permissions were recently updated and is applicable from July 30th 2018. You can read more from the government here 

Want to find out more about our drone courses?

Give us a call on +44 (0)208 0450 508 to discuss obtaining your UAQ with UAVAir or get in touch here