In this article, we'll be looking at how you can get a Drone License from the CAA in the UK. First of all, I'd like to clear the misconception of a Drone License as there is no such thing.
What we have in the UK is a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) which allows you to fly your drone commercially. If you only fly for fun or as a hobby you (currently) don't need anything as long as you follow the rules and regulations of the air.
If you are a hobbyist, why not check out our FREE Course ICARUS 1?
What is a Drone License? - Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO)
The PfCO is a document from the CAA that allows you for up to 12 months to fly your drone commercially. To have gained the PfCO you would have initially have had to do a course with a Nationally Qualified Entity (NQE) such as ourselves (Aerial Motion Pictures) which is delivered as a combination of Theoretical elements culminating in a written exam, a Practical assessment and the creation of a document called an Operations Manual.
After 12 months you can re-apply for your PfCO. The initial application fee for the PfCO is £247 and the current renewal fee for a PfCO is £187.
What's involved with the Theory part of the drone course?
You will attend a 2-day classroom based theory course which is run by one of our certified examiners. Your classroom training is supported with access to our ICARUS Resource Library that contains hours of E-Learning Videos that are freely available before attending the course. Viewing of these materials is optional.
At the end of the 2-day course, you will have to take a 50 question, multiple-choice examination which required a pass mark of 80%.
What's involved with the Practical Examination of the drone course?
For your Practical Examination (Otherwise known as an Operational Evaluation (OE)), you will have to plan for and complete a simple commercial task, usually to take a photograph of a building or structure. The second part of the examination is the demonstration of a series of flight manoeuvres with your aircraft. We provide you with Videos and E-Learning to help you prepare for this.
The whole of the examination should take no more than 2 hours in total.
How long does it take to complete a drone course?
PfCO Drone Courses with ourselves last for two days in the classroom and then a further (up to) 2 hours for your practical flying assessment which is booked at a later mutually convenient date.
The Operations Manual is something that will take you as a minimum full two days to write which you do in your own time. Alternatively, you can use a consulting company such as Open Sky Consulting who will produce you an Operations Manual that is ready to be submitted to the CAA. If you choose the ICARUS Pro course with ourselves, you will get an Operations Manual included (provided by Open Sky Consulting).
How long does it take to get my PfCO from the CAA?
When you have received your NQE Recommendation Certificate from ourselves (which you will only receive on submission of a completed Operations Manual), you can then apply to the CAA for your Permission for Commercial Operation. The CAA stipulate that this can take up to 28 working days from submitting your application.
The quickest we have seen somebody go from attending a Theory Course with ourselves to receiving a PfCO from the CAA is 30 days. In general, it takes people a minimum of 2-3 months to complete a course and receive their PfCO from the CAA.
The amount of time it takes to do everything comes down to personal circumstances, the weather and the CAA's application process.
Why should I choose Fly ICARUS to get my drone license?
With over 40 NQEs in the UK at this time, it can be confusing which one to go for. With ICARUS you are guaranteed (and we have the reviews to prove it) that you will get a trustworthy and excellent value course that is backed up by our credentials.
Highest rated drone course on Trustpilot
Our ICARUS course is the highest rated drone training course on Trustpilot, with at the time of this publication having over 200 independently verified 5-star reviews. Since 2015, we have trained over 1000 remote pilots to get their PfCO, some of which have gone on to becoming the top Remote Pilots in the industry and setting up very successful businesses.
Designed by a Drone Industry Expert
Our course was designed by Drone Industry expert Matt Williams who was not only an ex-RAF Helicopter Instructor but a SUA enthusiast before the drone industry was even a term.
First Independent Drone School
Unique E-Learning Videos
We combine our drone training with free E-Learning through our ICARUS Resource Library which gives you instant access to video learning of core modules. You can see an example of our E-Learning platform by enrolling on our FREE ICARUS 1 course for Hobbyists and Enthusiasts. The course only takes 20-30 minutes and will give you a better understanding of the rules and regulations for hobby drone pilots in the UK and explains when you may need to get a PfCO from the CAA.
You can also see a sample of some of our E-Learning videos through our YouTube channel.
So to get your Drone License (PfCO) from the CAA, you will need to choose an NQE that is right for you. You'll need to attend a theoretical course that culminates in a written examination. Next up you'll need to prove that you can safely fly your aircraft during a practical exam, and lastly, you will need to produce an Operations Manual that is unique to you, your company (should you have one) and your drone operations.
On completion of a PfCO course, you'll be awarded an NQE Recommendation Certificate that you can then use to apply for your Permission for Commercial Operation from the CAA.