Preparing for your Practical Flight Test

flight test

So, you’ve attended the Uplift Ground School and passed your Theory Test with flying colours. Next up is your practical Flight Test. Here we explain everything you need to know about booking, prepping for and taking your Practical Flight Test.

Firstly, it’s important to highlight that we must assess you as a SAFE commercial SUA operator to recommend you to the CAA for your PfCO. You should treat the Flight Test as a commercial job, doing everything you state in your Operations Manual.

The Flight Test is an assessment of your abilities to operate a SUA safely as a commercial operator. This includes planning, paperwork, setting up and operating the SUA. We are assessing that you are safe at all times, and that the safety of the aircraft and environment (including people, buildings etc.) it’s operating in is never in doubt.

How to Book your Flight Test

It’s easy to assume that once you’ve booked and paid for your course, that your Flight Test is automatically confirmed. This is not the case! Students will be use to flying different aircraft (or none at all), have various levels of experience and different learning abilities. Therefore, you will not all be ready to take your test at the same time. After the Theory Test has been passed, it is up to the student to obtain 5 hours or more of logged flight time and then, only once you feel confident to pass the Flight Test should you contact us directly to book it in. Provided all the requirements are met, you can book it in for the next available date at your preferred location.

Before your Flight Test

You will need the following completed before your test:
• Theory exam passed.
• Operations Manual reviewed and passed by the training team OR Uplift procedures learned before test.
• We require a minimum of 5 hours of logged flight time; this is to ensure you are able to successfully pass your flight exam and you meet the minimum standard required.
• Insurance in place (must comply with EC Regulation 785/2004).
• Risk assessment & site assessment paperwork.

Additionally, for the test to go ahead we require appropriate weather. The test cannot go ahead if there are any adverse weather conditions. This includes, rain, snow, extreme temperatures or strong winds, with most standard commercial drones can only operate up to 22mph.

And finally, a drone! You can fly your own aircraft, or if you are yet to decide on which aircraft you want, please speak to us (at the time of booking your test) about hiring or purchasing a drone for the test.

What to Bring with You

Please make sure you bring the following items with you on the day:
• Operating procedures.
• Emergency procedures.
• Safety equipment; including firefighting equipment, first aid kit and warning signs (as a minimum).
• Batteries; including plenty of spare, fully charged batteries – the last thing you’d want is to run out halfway through the test!
• Logbook.
• Risk assessment & site assessment paperwork.

Contact your flight examiner the day before your test, to offer your opinion on the weather conditions and if you think the test should go ahead. In the event of adverse weather conditions, your flight test can be rescheduled for the next suitable date. Mother Nature can be a pain!

The test takes approximately 1.5 hours – however, this may vary. Always allow ample travel time to and from your test location and contact the Uplift office if you are expecting any delays. Unfortunately, we are unable to postpone your test to later on the same day if you are delayed, as other customers may be booked in for their tests at the same location.

Flight Test, Part 1: Briefing

Part 1 of the Flight Test includes the flight briefing, which takes approximately 30 mins. Your examiner will explain what is required from you and what will be assessed during the test, including pre-flight actions, in-flight procedures and post-flight actions. The examiner will also ask you questions about your planning, such as how you check for hazards and your flight distances. Once the examiner is satisfied you are prepared for your Flight Test, you will move onto Part 2.

Flight Test, Part 2: Flight Manoeuvres

Part 2 of the Flight Test examines your manoeuvres and is conducted in a test area of approximately 100m x 100m:

flight test area

We’ve provided a step-by-step guide of the manoeuvres you’ll be asked to complete on the day:

1. First, you’ll be asked to manually take-off the aircraft and perform flight control checks, before flying to Point A at a designated height. Whilst at Point A, you’ll put the aircraft into a continuous yaw, before stopping and returning nose-first to the landing site.

2. You’ll then be asked to fly between Points A and B, whilst climbing at a 45-degree angle, before returning back to Point A, whilst descending at a 45-degree angle.

3. Next, you’ll be asked to fly to Point D and back, keeping the aircraft in a nose-forward orientation. Followed by flying the square C-D-E-F clockwise in GPS mode.

4. You’ll then be asked to fly a continuous figure of 8 pattern, nose-forward, keeping within the test area.

5. Next, you’ll be asked to fly between Points A and B, whilst positioning the aircraft camera towards point Z (determined on the day).

6. You’ll also be asked to switch your aircraft from GPS mode to ATTI mode, if your aircraft supports this., before flying to Point A and back in a nose-forward orientation. You will also need to fly the square (C-D-E-F) whilst in this mode.

7. Finally, you’ll be asked to show you’re able to cut communications with the aircraft to demonstrate the Return to Home feature, including performing a manual landing.

8. At any time during the test you will be asked to carry out an emergency procedure.

Remember, you’ll be given 2 chances for each manoeuvre and will have to successfully carry out all the items to pass the test!

We are proud to currently have a 95% pass rate, so let’s get it to 100%! We encourage our students to contact us if you have any questions about your Flight Test, or any other part of your course. We offer ongoing support to all our students from the very beginning to well after your course is complete.

Watch the video below for a visual round-up of our Flight Test guidance:


For more information, visit our website: 

Our friendly team of experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the Practical Flight Test and to book your slot. Please do not hesitate to contact us today!


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