When people make the transition from being a hobbyist drone pilot to being a commercial drone pilot with a drone, they sometimes get confused over what you can and can't do.
As a Hobbyist you have to abide by the regulations in CAP 393 - The Air Navigation Order (Articles 94 & 95) as well as the guidance laid down in CAP 722 - Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace - Guidance & Policy.
Where some people get confused is delineating what you can and can't do as a Hobbyist when they have a PfCO.
When you get a PfCO, you get a permission to fly your drone within congested areas, whereas without a PfCO you have to stay 150 metres away.
However, if you want to fly under your Standard Permissions provided by the CAA's PfCO, then you will need to conduct all of the necessary planning and paperwork that is required on all operations conducted under your PfCO as per your Operations Manual.
e.g: Risk Assessments, insurance, crew briefing, human factors considerations etc.
So if you hold a PfCO and wanted to fly in a congested area, but it wasn't for a 'client' you would still need to do all of the necessary planning and paperwork as stated above.
If you are not in what could be deemed a congested area, and you stay 150 metres away from a congested area as well as 50 metres away from People, Vessels, Vehicles and Structures (PVVS) not under your control then you don't need to conduct any of the planning and paperwork, it is ONLY if you are either:
- Flying commercially
- Flying under Standard Permissions that you have been granted to you by the CAA
Can I log my hobbyist flying hours towards my PfCO renewal?
You can log ANY flying with your drone in your logbook, regardless if it was practice, recreational or commercial. You can log ALL flying in your log book which will count towards the minumum requirements of at least 2 hours in the last 3 months prior to the renewal of a PfCO.
You can find out how to log your drone flights by clicking here.
So, the long and the short of it is that if you want to operate under the auspices of your PfCO, you need to ensure that you do the pre-requisite elements such as risk assessment, flight planning and ensuring that you appropriately log any of these activities.
If you want to operate on a non-commercial basis i.e. for a hobby or 'recreational flight', then you just need to abide by the drone code and the Air Navigation Order (ANO), remembering to maintain a minimum of 50m from Persons, Vessels, Vehicles and Structures (PVVS) at all times and staying more than 150m clear of a congested area.
If you are thinking about attaining your PfCO from the CAA, why not check out our Pay As You Go PfCO? We are providing ALL of our E-Learning Syllabus to you for FREE via Stage 1.