Drone Theory and Flight Training towards the CAA PfCO or Permission for Commercial Operations
This is one of the questions we get asked all the time at Uplift Drones. Don't worry - the answer is straightforward and we are here to help you through each step of the process.
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It’s important to point out that a ‘drone licence’ doesn’t actually exist in the UK, so this term can be misleading. However, the term is regularly coined by those who don’t know how better to describe the CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) – as its full name can be a bit of a mouthful! The PfCO is granted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to allow a company or person to undertake commercial work with their SUA (small unmanned aircraft -the official CAA term for a drone under 20kg).
The companies where you can be assessed for your PfCO are officially called National Qualified Entities or NQEs for short. They provide training and assessment to ensure you become a fully competent drone operator. Like with any service, it’s important to do your research and find the best NQE for you. Uplift Drones is a leading NQE in the UK. We provide high quality training courses to help you obtain your PfCO with unlimited support throughout and beyond the process.
Once you have found an excellent-quality NQE, you need to book a course. Uplift Drones provides two main training courses – Advanced PfCO & Fast Track PfCO – that lead to the PfCO. Each course we offer has two days of classroom-based theory training (Ground School). Our Advanced PfCO course adds a day of flight training, which we think is essential for those not familiar with flying drones or planning commercial drone jobs. At the end of your 2-day theory course there is a multiple choice exam, which you will be well prepared for by the end of Ground School. Once you have passed the exam the next step is…
You will need to write an Operations Manual. This sets out how you will operate your drone safely. Your Ops Manual contains the procedures you will use when flying your drone, including on your flight test. We will help you with written guidance on how to write your Ops Manual and provides ongoing support via phone & email. It isn’t difficult and we can show you how to complete this to a high standard, with the minimum of fuss. This Operations Manual will form part of your application to the CAA for your Permission for Commercial Operations.
NEW – we are now offering students the opportunity to write the operations manual before attending the ground course. By doing this, you can attend the ground school and subject to meeting certain requirements then take your flight test straight after the ground school, this results in one visit to us not two.
Once you have submitted your Operations Manual to us and it has been approved, you will need to take out insurance for your drone and book a Practical Flight Test with us. By the time you have been through the excellent training at Uplift, you will be confident when it comes to the Flight Test. The Flight Test will be conducted as if it is a commercial job; the examiner will make it clear what is expected, but will only observe and assess your operation against the operations manual you have written. Some of the things the examiner will be looking for are:
All of this will be very clear and familiar to you after you have completed the excellent Uplift training. Once you’ve passed your Flight Test, its time for the final stage!
When you have completed all parts of the course successfully and submitted an Operations Manual for review (which has been signed off by our training team), you can submit your paperwork to the CAA via their online application process.. The CAA charge a fee for application which is not included in the course price. Shortly after, you will receive your Permission for Commercial Operations. You are then all set to work commercially with your aircraft in whatever sector your business is focusing on; whether it be filmmaking, photography, surveying or something else!