Today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced they are introducing a new and improved online application process for unmanned aircraft, more commonly known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
The aim is to clarify the process to customers whilst improving their own productivity (thus reducing wait time and delays for customers) by moving the application process online.
Those of you looking to apply for your Standard Permission (PfCO) will be able to do so via a simplified online form, rather than the current (and lengthy!) SRG1320 form. The online form will provide guidance through each step of the application and extra detail on all the documents you need to send the CAA. And never fear, the SRG1320 form has also been given a makeover. So, anyone applying for a Non-Standard Permission (Exemption) will now face a fairly straight-forward application process as well.
Customers will also be required to make all payments via debit/credit card, through a secure online payment system prior to submitting their application.
Furthermore, there is now prevention guidance for any incorrect application submissions, so you will quickly know the outcome of your application, plus if – and why – you need to make any amendments or submit a new application.
The new UAS application process is due to come into effect next Wednesday 18th April 2018. However, it’s important to note that the existing SRG1320 form will still be accepted for both standard and non-standard permission applications until 1st June 2018, with this date being the absolute deadline to swap over to the CAA’s new application process.
How to Ensure Your Application has the Best Chance of Approval
We all know one of the most frustrating parts of the PfCO application is when it’s time to submit your documents for review. You could spend what feels like forever compiling and re-checking your documentation, for your NQE to come back and say, “this needs to be amended” or “that must now be included”. Know the feeling? This could be because the CAA do occasionally change their requirements, and if you do omit something from your application, there’s a chance it can be either put on hold or rejected. If this is the case, the CAA will now notify you directly to advise the reason and a new application should be submitted once your amendments have been made.
The CAA has also advised that even if your application is accepted, the UAS department may still put your application on hold should they require any further information. This will usually be required within a set time-frame and you risk your application being rejected should these time scales not be met for any reason.
Below are some of the CAA’s examples (sourced from the CAA website) of possible reasons for rejection and what you can do to prevent them:
Here we explain how you can apply for both a standard permission and a non-standard permission, from 18th April 2018. It’s important to note that any existing PfCOs that include both the standard permission and non-standard / exemption approvals in one document will no longer be renewed as a combined Permission and will now require separate renewal forms as below.
For a Standard Permission (PfCO)
There are four types of application that fall within the new, online standard permission form; initial application, renewal application, variation application and renewal & variation application. You will need to complete the relevant parts of the online application form and submit the following documents to the CAA:
- Initial application: Ops Manual, Insurance, NQE full recommendation or equivalent qualification.
- Renewal application: Ops Manual, Insurance, Flight Logs.
- Variation application: Ops Manual, Insurance, NQE recommendation or equivalent qualification if changing weight / class category.
- Renewal & Variation application: Ops Manual Insurance, NQE recommendation or equivalent qualification if changing weight / class category, Flight Logs.
For a Non-Standard Permission / Exemption
Non-standard/exemption applications can be made using the new SRG1320 form for the following:
- Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS)
- Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)
- Reduced Distances
There are four types of application that fall within the new SRG1320 form; initial application, renewal application, variation application and renewal & variation application. You will need to complete the relevant parts of the online application form and submit the following documents to the CAA:
- Initial application: Ops Manual Vol 1, 2, & 3, Insurance, NQE full recommendation or equivalent qualification
- Renewal application: Ops Manual Vol 1, 2, & 3, Insurance, Flight Logs
- Variation application: Ops Manual Vol 1, 2, & 3, Insurance, NQE recommendation or equivalent qualification if changing weight / class category
- Renewal & Variation application: Ops Manual Vol 1, 2, & 3 Insurance, NQE recommendation or equivalent qualification if changing weight / class category, Flight Logs
It’s great to see the CAA modernise their systems and processes within their UAS department, promoting progress and growth for the industry. At Uplift, we’re extremely supportive of this new streamlined process, that has the potential to lead to less applications being put on hold and more first-time approvals. We also look forward to shorter turnaround times and fewer delays for Permission applications, so companies and individuals can enter the commercial drone industry with efficiency and begin commercial drone operations.
Update 04.05.2018 – Please click the link to be directed to the CAA’s online application for Standard PfCO: https://apply.caa.co.uk/CAAPortal/servlet/SmartForm.html?formCode=UAS
If you have any questions or queries surrounding the current or new application process, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our industry experts today!