CAA PfCO Approval

Drone Training towards the CAA PfCO

5 Steps to Success

How Do I Qualify to Fly Drones Commercially in the UK?

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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Firstly –

What is a CAA PfCO or Permission for Commercial Operations?

It’s important to point out that a ‘drone license’ 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 Permission for Commercial Operations (CAA 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 (paid) work with their SUA (small unmanned aircraft -the official CAA term for a drone under 20kg).

Step 1 –

Find the best Drone Training Provider (CAA-Approved NQE)

The commercial drone training companies where you can be assessed for your CAA 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 one of the original leading NQEs in the UK. We provide high-quality training courses to help you obtain your PfCO with unlimited support throughout and beyond the process.

Step 2 –

Book your PfCO Drone Course

Once you have found an excellent-quality NQE, you need to book a training course. Uplift Drones provides two types of training courses that lead to your PfCO – online and classroom. The Online PfCO is one of our best-selling courses, as you complete the theory element from the comfort of your home or office with our advanced online learning management system. The Advanced PfCO & Fast Track PfCO both have two days of classroom-based theory training (Ground School). Our Advanced PfCO course adds a session 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…

Step 3 –

Write your Operations Manual

As part of your PfCO application, you will need to write and supply an Operations Manual, which 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 guidance on how to write your Ops Manual along with our easy-to-use Ops Manual Templates, and provide ongoing support via online chat, phone & email. We can show you how to complete this to the highest standard, with minimum fuss. This Operations Manual will form part of your application to the CAA for your Permission for Commercial Operations.

Step – 4

Pass your Practical Flight Test

Once you have submitted your Operations Manual to us and it has been approved, you will need to take out commercial drone insurance 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:

  • Safe operation and control of the aircraft.
  • Correct planning and paperwork.
  • Your assessment of the site and adequate safety measures.

All of this will be very clear and familiar to you after you have completed the high-quality Flight Test Preparation eCourse, included in all of our PfCO courses. Once you’ve passed your Flight Test, its time for the final stage…

Step 5 –

Submit your UAS application to the CAA

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 an application fee 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!

More Information

Documentation and CAA Application Guidance

Click here to view our guidance on applying to the CAA for your Permission for Commercial Operations.

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