How to get qualified to fly Drones Commercially. UAQ, BNUC, RPQ

Are you wondering how to earn money from flying a Drone and what the route to becoming a professional Drone pilot actually looks like?

Well the industry is growing at a phenomenal rate, and the opportunities are endless, so now is definitely the right time to enter the industry!

Let us have a quick look at some of your options.

Although drones have been around for over a decade, they have mainly been in use by the military. It has been the rise of miniaturisation and modern fabrication techniques, such as carbon fibre that has enabled all of us to be able to buy and fly the smaller drones that are now familiar to the general public today.

As mentioned above, the industry is growing very quickly, so in order to protect the industry and the general public, regulations and restrictions on the use of drones are being imposed by the CAA - Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA has published an Air Navigation Order – the law that every drone pilot and company must observe, which defines any money that we get from drone flying as Aerial Work. The Permission for Aerial Work or PFAW is therefore the qualification that we need to get. The above is all true for smaller Drones under 150kg, should you however wish to operate much larger Drones than the average Quadcopter or Multi-Rotor then you need to look towards the regulations issued by EASA as they govern all Unmanned Aircraft or UAVs above 150kg.

To get your PFAW you have to do 3 things: go on a CAA Approved Course at a National Qualified Entity or NQE as they are known, then send your newly gained qualification, along with evidence of your flying ability and an Operations Manual to the CAA to get the PFAW.

Until this year there were only a few NQEs which is why there is sometimes confusion about what the qualification is actually called. The answer is there are lots of names for the same thing. EuroUSC were the first company to launch and their course qualification is called a BNUC. The second NQE were called Resource Group and their course qualification is called an RPQ.

This year the CAA changed how to become an NQE drone training company and so there are now 10 different companies and growing, each with a different course qualification name. Here our CAA Approved UAVAir course is called the UAQ – Unmanned Aircraft Qualification. However, every NQE drone training company will allow you to apply to the CAA for your PFAW.


Basically there is no official license to fly Drones, however in order to make sure that people operating Drones commercially can do so safely, the CAA have issued a guidance on how to obtain the above mentioned permit - PFAW. Only with a PFAW can your company operate legally! The official way is therefore to pass a Drone Training Course with a CAA approved training school (NQE), which will issue you with their own, but fully CAA approved qualification. (UAQ, BNUC, RPQ etc). With that in your hand, and after producing a company operations manual, (don't worry you will learn more about this on the training course) you will be able to apply to the CAA for you Permit For Aerial Work - PFAW.

Finally once you have completed the course and gained your qualification, you can also choose to gain employment with a company who already operate under a CAA issued PFAW. The PFAW route is really only for current Companies or individuals wishing to start their own business however large or small with the view to use Drones for commercial gain.

So there is nothing stopping an individual from getting qualified through an NQE like UAVAir, with the view to be employed as a Professional Drone pilot, in fact we believe that this route will become more common.

Recently things have changed making the route to becoming a professional Drone pilot more flexible. Here at UAVAir we show you all the different options on our Drone course page. With us you can now complete the Ground School and Flying Test in 3 consecutive days to get our UAQ. We believe this is the most efficient and time-sensitive route for those who are looking to minimise the amount of time needed to complete the course.

Our modular route is a good option if you are not quite ready for the flight assessment or should you wish to reduce the initial amount payable, as it allows you to book the flight assessment separately. For those who already have aviation experience, we offer an abbreviated course which is a full day of practical ground school followed by the flight assessment the next day.

We believe that our UAVAir combination of respected airline pilots and the best drone pilots out there right now, working together, our knowledge of legislation, commercial knowhow and enthusiasm to get you on the right path are why our route to a PFAW is the one to take.

Why not visit us at to find out more or contact us for further information. 

Safe Flying