On the 31st December 2020, the CAA's current drone training and qualification system changes significantly. For the last 5 years, drone pilots have needed to get a Permission for Commercial Operation ( PfCO ) from the UK's Civil Aviation Authority if they have wanted to fly a drone for commercial gain; particularly if they wanted to start and run a drone business.
This won't be a requirement as of the 31st December 2020, as the CAA move over to the European Regulations (yes, despite the fact that the UK is no longer a part of Europe!) , which are being adopted from EASA (The European Aviation Safety Agency)
But what drone training and certification courses replace the current PfCO system, if any?
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Do I need to complete a CAA Drone Training Course when the EASA Regulations start on 31st December 2020?
The short answer is NO! :)
There will be no formal requirement to complete any CAA Drone Training Courses when the UK CAA switch over to the new EASA Drone Regulations on the 31st December 2020. Under the new regulations, the UK CAA will remove the definitions of 'commercial' and 'recreational' drone usage from the Air Navigation Order (ANO). This will allow anyone who owns a drone to fly it for 'commercial gain' without the need for any qualifications at all... So long as you can stay 150 metres away from built-up areas and 50 metres away from uninvolved persons at all times (and your drone weighs 25Kg or less).
You must remember that you ARE REQUIRED to have drone insurance in place though, if you are looking to do any kind of commercial drone flying... Give our friends at Coverdrone a shout if you need any help or advice on this; we use them for our Drone Insurance and they're awesome! :)
The only time CAA Drone Training Courses will be required, under the new EASA Regulations, will be if you want to fly closer to uninvolved people than 150m (or you want to fly over or near to crowds, fly drones which weigh more than 25Kg etc - if you want to know more about this, please don't hesitate to give the UAVHUB Team a shout and we can help you find a solution!).
What CAA Drone Training Courses will be available from 31st December 2020?
After the 31st December 2020, if you do want to fly closer to uninvolved people than 150 metres then you can either use a 'legacy' Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO), a (soon to be) 'legacy' Operating Safety Case (OSC), or, the new CAA Drone Training Course Qualifications which are;
- The A2 Certificate of Competency ( A2 C of C )
- The CAA General Visual Line of Sight Certificate ( CAA GVC )
What is the CAA General Visual Line of Sight Certificate ( GVC )?
The CAA GVC effectively replaces the current PfCO. It follows a similar course structure; A theory course & exam, followed by the creation of a CAA Drone Operations Manual and a Practical Drone Flying Exam.
Completion of these 3 core elements will lead to you getting a GVC issued to you by your training provider and you can then use this certificate to apply to the CAA for an 'Operational Authorisation'.
The GVC Permissions in their basic form allow the operator to fly any drone which weighs less than 25Kg, down to a distance of 50m from uninvolved persons and allows for use in congested areas, provided the 50m separation from uninvolved persons can be maintained at all times. This is the same as the current PfCO qualification.
However, the main advantage of the GVC over the PfCO is that the GVC forms the 'base-line' training qualification and you can then complete 'bolt-on' training modules which will allow you to do things like;
- Fly your drone 'EVLOS' ( Extended Visual Line of Sight)
- Fly your drone 'BVLOS' ( Beyond Visual Line of Sight)
- Fly your drone over crows of people
- Fly your drone over and within congested areas
The bolt-on modules aren't available from any provider at the time of writing (the CAA haven't finalised the 'PDRA's' that the Bolt-Ons are based around yet) but as soon as they do, they'll be available to all UAVHUB GVC Students!
How long is a GVC Valid for & do you need to renew it with the CAA?
The CAA GVC certificate which will be issued to you by your training provider will be valid for 5 years. This does mean that there will be a requirement to go back to a training provider every 5 years, to complete a 'refresher' course.
You'l use your GVC Certificate to apply to the CAA for your Operational Authorisation and, like the CAA PfCO at the moment, there's a requirement to renew your Operational Authorisation each year, directly with the CAA.
The drone regulations in the UK are changing significantly and things are actually going to be much easier for people who want to enter the commercial drone market and make money from flying their drone.
That being said, there are a few important things to be aware of:
- Make sure you have completed the CAA DMARES (Drone Registration)
- Make sure you have insurance in place before flying your drone 'commercially'
- Make sure you have the appropriate qualification if you want to fly closer than 150 metres to uninvolved people.
We've got other in-depth content which discusses the details of the CAA A2 C of C ( Certificate of Competency ) and the GVC but the main thing to note about the GVC is that the certificate which you get issued by your training provider is valid for 5 years and you'll use this to apply to the CAA for your Operational Authorisation each year.
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