What is a drone licence? | License or License?

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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. 

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Drone Licence or Drone License?

Firstly, drone licence or drone license? This confusion is so similar to practice and practise that once you've learned the difference for one, you instantly know it for the other! Licence is a noun, license is a verb. Before learning to drive, you apply for a provisional driving licence, but the DVLA must license you to drive.

Unofficial tear down youtube video from candidate James Mathews. (Please note exam is no longer open book)

What is a drone licence?

Technically the term ‘drone licence’ is 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 a drone licence?

At the moment, not everyone needs a licence in order to legally fly. If you are flying a consumer drone for recreational purposes, then you do not need a licence. Your drone however must be under 20kg in weight, and you must follow some regulations. 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 must go on a course to obtain a qualification in order to fly under the terms of 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.

How can I get a drone licence?

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 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 drone pilot licence, or permission, 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 fly safely and efficiently 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 1000 pilots.

If you are a recreational pilot who wants to undertake a commercial drone job quickly, our Fast Track courses can give you the CAA required credentials you need in just three days. 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 a Drone Licence 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

What Qualifications Do I Need for a Drone Licence (not Drone License)?

There are a number of routes to satisfying the competency requirements for a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the CAA. By far the quickest and easiest is to undertake the 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. 

The regulations applicable to commercial drone licences was 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.