How much does a 'drone licence' cost?

If you are one of the many people in the UK that is considering using a drone within their organisation, then you may be interested in some of the operating costs and capital expenditure. There are initial costs involved when making the decision to use drones, and it is something that should be considered by all organisations. So, how much does it cost to use and own a drone for commercial purposes? Let us explain.

Permission for Commercial Operation (similar to a Drone Licence)
First and foremost, you need to train at a CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) approved uav academy and receive a suitable qualification, such as our Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ), before you can legally fly for commercial purposes. Here at UAVAir we are happy to help you do this. You can complete our Fast Track course in 3 days, which is £999 + VAT. It is all inclusive and there are no hidden fees for anything else. 

Is a PfCO similar to 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) this is needed for most drone pilot jobs.

You will need an insurance policy that is compliant with EC785/2004. We recommend you take a look at Moonrock. Most operators can expect to pay between £600 - £1000 for an annual policy. 

Fee for CAA Application
In order to submit your application to the CAA, you will be required to pay an application fee. The current fee is £247. 

Initial equipment
To get qualified, you must invest in the initial equipment you need to start flying a drone commercially. The type of drone you buy will depend on the applications you intend to use it for. The Phantom 4 professional quadcopter drone from DJI is recommended for media or other imaging applications, with a high-resolution camera that also has filming capabilities, but it is priced at £700 - £900. Some models, such as the DJI Mavic Pro 4K can run over £1,000.

Specialist equipment
If you’ve been in the industry for a while and are starting to get to know the specific needs of your customers, you may realise that you need to invest in some more specialist equipment. Engineers, for example, may like to use some additional sensors such as a thermal imaging camera, costing anywhere between £100 - £5000, depending on what you required. If you're looking to attach a specific camera to your drone, this may cost a few hundred pounds. You may also want to consider having a case for your equipment to protect against damages. These can range from £50-£1000, depending on your preferences. 

Business costs
Finally, running a business and/or a drone team comes with unavoidable costs that are necessary to keep your organisation successful. Marketing efforts such as making and running a website will need to be considered, as well as any overheads that you may endure due to hiring additional staff, accountants or other outsourced services.

Although it may seem like a large initial investment, deciding to utilise drone technology could open up the door to new opportunities or help introduce operational efficiencies, making these initial costs worthwhile! If you’re ready to take the plunge, learn more about how UAVAir your organisation put drones in the sky safely.