Frequently Asked Questions
Getting your Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) can seem like 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. If you do not see an answer to a question you may have, please email us at email@example.com or call us on +44 (0)208 0450 508.
To get started, click on a subject below and read more about our offerings and the PfCO process.
Where do I start?
Do I need to provide my own drone?
Yes. We do not supply drones on our courses. You will also need to have a minimum of 2 hours logged on the drone you wish to use. If you use a DJI product, the GO4 App will log your flights for you,
Where can I do the course?
We have over 12 locations across the UK including one venue in Scotland. Every location has a classroom environment for the Ground School as well as a large, safe and secure area for the Flight Assessment. Our locations include Brighton, Exeter, Huntingdon, London, Brentwood, Portsmouth, Perth, Manchester, Oxford, Uttoxeter and Newbury.
Can I complete the Flight Assessment before I have written my Operations Manual?
The short answer is yes. We can provide you with a generic set of procedures to enable you to complete the Flight Assessment before completing your own company-specific Operations Manual. This will give you an opportunity to learn exactly what is required and what works well and not so well, before writing your own procedures.
Do you offer bespoke courses?
We aim to satisfy the needs of all our clients and can certainly offer a bespoke course if required. We offer industry-specific bolt-ons to help organisations tailor their training and we can also deliver training at a venue of your choice. If you're interested in discussing a bespoke option, get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.
Why should I choose UAVAir?
We appreciate that some other drone training providers may offer cheaper and shorter courses. But at UAVAir we focus on providing our students with high-quality training with some of the industry's best instructors. Our courses are designed to satisfy CAA requirements, but also to ensure our students are well equipped to start operating as professional drone operators after completing the course. We are also ProQual recognised for a Level 3 Certificate and Level 4 Diploma in the Remote Piloting of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This means your UAQ course is academically recognised worldwide.
What if I have learning difficulties, e.g. Dyslexic? Can I do the course?
We routinely train people with broad and diverse learning difficulties. We appreciate that exams and learning can be stressful, and that it is our duty to support you as much as is reasonable, whilst ensuring high standards in safety and airmanship are not compromised. We have a Diversity and Inclusion policy which is available on request, or if you'd like to know more information, please speak to a member of our team.
Licences & Permits
What is a PfCO?
To operate a drone in the UK for commercial purposes, it is a requirement that you get a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The PfCO is split into different classes and these are defined by aircraft type and aircraft weight, which are Rotary Sub 20kg, Fixed Wing Sub 20kg. To be granted a PfCO, you must satisfy the following requirements, demonstration of pilot competence (theoretical knowledge and piloting ability), Operations Manual approval, and the PfCO application.
Do I need a PfCO?
Yes if you wish to fly a drone on a commercial basis, or fly one with a camera/surveillance fitted aircraft within congested areas or close to people and properties that are not under your control. However, if you are 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. If you're unsure about whether or not you need a PfCO, our team of experts can help advise you.
How do I apply for my PfCO?
Once you have received your UAQ certificate from UAVAir, applications for your PfCO are made directly to the CAA by following their online application process. The CAA costs for this application are for each different type of drone you register that you will be flying. Prices are around £250 for the initial application charge for all aircraft under 20kg and around £170 for each annual renewal. The CAA's website can provide further details on PfCO costs.
What is the qualification called?
Qualification or Permission? UAVAir offers a CAA approved drone training course that fully prepares you to fly drones commercially and apply for your Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO). Our course is known as the Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ) as it is OfQual approved through ProQual to a level 3 and 4 diploma. The training also serves as proof of competency when applying to the CAA for your commercial permission.
How long will it take me to get my PfCO?
With our course, you can take as little or as much time as you want. If you choose the Fast-Track option, you will need around 20 hours of pre-course revision before you sit the Ground School and at least two hours of logged flight time before the Flight Assessment. However, if you come prepared with both, you can pass the course in a quick three days. You can then go on to complete your Operations Manual and take as much time as you need. If you would like to spread the learning out further, you can take the modular approach and start with our online learning and then sit the Ground School and Flight Assessment when you're ready. Once you apply for your PfCO, you should hear back within 28 days from the CAA.
Do you help me with the Operations Manual?
Yes, we most certainly help with your Operations Manual. However, it is imperative that it is your own work and plagiarising another company's manual is prohibited. The template we give you after completing your UAQ course is designed to be quick and easy with a review process along the way. The beauty of UAVAir’s template is that students fill in pre-formatted sections with their own details. The result is a completed manual that is effectively written by the applicant that follows CAA guidelines and is customised to your own operations.
What if I fail the Flight Assessment?
If you fail the Flight Assessment, you will be required to pay a re-sit fee. However, we aim to provide you with all the necessary tools and preparation to succeed the first time around.
Can I do the UAQ on a fixed-wing aircraft?
Yes, many of our locations are hosted at racecourses, which have a large test site area suitable for fixed-wing assessments.
What if I fail the theory exam?
UAVAir allows candidates free re-sit's if you fail one of the two theory exams. You must pass both exams before being able to take a Flight Assessment. If you are booked to take the Flight Assessment on the third day of a Fast Track PfCO course, and you fail an exam, you will not be charged to rebook your Flight Assessment.
How do I book a course?
Making a booking with UAVAir is easy. To book simply use our secure online booking system through our 'Book Now' page.
How much does the course cost?
Our UAQ Fast Track PfCO Drone Course is £999 + VAT. We also offer the UAQ fundamentals course where you can pay £250 + VAT and receive access to the online learning. This allows you to upgrade to a Fast Track PfCO for £749 + VAT when the time is right, and you can take the Ground School and Flight Assessment at a later date.
I’m worried I won’t be ready for my Flight Assessment
We recommend you have at least two hours of flight time in the last three months before booking your Flight Assessment. However, when you sign-up for a UAQ course, you will receive access to our online learning portal as well as a Candidate's Guide to help you prepare. In here, you will find everything you need to know about the Flight Assessment including the manoeuvres that you will be expected to perform. If you still don't feel confident, you can book a 90-minute flight training spot with us for £215 + VAT.
Insurance & Legal
What is the law when flying a drone privately?
Even if you're not looking to fly drones commercially, you are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight, so it's important to take time to understand the regulations for yours and the public's safety. You must check the drone for damage before each flight, and make sure that all components are working correctly. You must keep the drone in sight 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. More information can be found on the CAA's website.
Do I need insurance for the course?
Insurance will not be required to book a course, to complete the online learning or the Ground School. However, you will be required to have the appropriate insurance in place for the Flight Assessment. Therefore, if you are attending the Fast-Track course, you will need to have insurance in place before you start the three-day course. If you need further advice on insurance, get in touch with us.