UAV tips – preparing your operations manual

At UAVAir we specialise in giving budding pilots the training, expertise and the qualifications needed in order to enter the commercial UAV market as a fully qualified operator. That is why, after passing your ground school and flight assessment on our one of our Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ) courses, we continue to support all of our candidates applying for a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) by assisting them in writing their operations manual.

What is an operations manual?
This document is required by anyone wishing to gain their own PfCO from the CAA. Your operations manual should include information about the specific missions you will be completing with your UAV, covering aspects such as the platform(s) you will be flying and your personal procedures and checklists to ensure a safe operation. Your operations manual is effectively a contract between yourself and the CAA. As a result, your Operations Manual is used to perform checks and balances on your operations should something go wrong when completing your commercial operations using a UAV.

What must be included in an operations manual?
The CAA has provided a free template, available to download online, and we also have our own template that is provided for you on our learning portal when you complete our course. The template clarifies everything that the CAA will expect to see in any operations manual that is submitted to them for review. There are four sections; A, B, C and D.

Section A of your Operations Manual should detail your company's policy for commercial work using a drone, including what your SUA (Small Unmanned Aircraft) will do in your operation, who will be accountable and how long you are willing to work for. You are asked to demonstrate compliance with the Air Navigation Order, so knowledge of the conditions is imperative. At UAVAir, we help all of our candidates with this process, offering an additional template and video guides to take you through each section needed to write a thorough, compliant operations manual.

Section B should cover how the drone will be flown from a health and safety perspective. Most importantly, this should cover your emergency procedure and how to deal with an emergency situation. In this area of the manual, candidates must detail how they will have full awareness of the sites they will be operating in. For example, how they will notify people in the area and how they plan to obtain landowner permission.

Section C requires evidence of the training that has been completed by the pilot. This includes documentation proving knowledge of how to stay current and the checks and balances that are in place for any additional people flying the drone as part of the company (whom also need the correct qualifications.) Pilots flying for larger companies must also include details of any other people in their business who are also qualified to fly, such as camera operators.

Finally, section D contains many appendices, where a full copy of the CAA Permission and the conditions that are outlined in it must be present. Flight planning forms, site assessments and risk assessments should also be included in this important section.

Preparing and creating a successful operations manual may seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary part of becoming a commercial UAV pilot with good airmanship and a solid commercial business. At UAVAir we enlist each of our candidates with the theoretical knowledge needed in order to write their operations manual, as well as offering continued support throughout the entire process of applying for a PfCO.

Learn more about our CAA approved drone courses online.