Well before we start, let's understand a little more about the Category in which you want to be working in.
What is the Open Category?
One of the changes to the UK Drone Regulations came into effect on the 31st December 2020, was the introduction of the 'Open Category'.
This new category allows people to fly drones up to 25Kg in weight without the need for any qualifications or permissions. All a drone operator needs to do if they want to fly in the open category is to ensure that they have completed the Drone Registration scheme (if required) and that they stick to the drone code...
The Open Category has heralded a big change for the drone community in the UK and has opened up opportunities for people to exploit drone technology. The only major caveat surrounding operating in the open category is that the drone operator needs to ensure that they remain 150m or more away from built-up areas and 50 metres away from uninvolved persons at all times.
Does the A2 C of C let me get closer to people, not under my control?
If you want to get closer to uninvolved people and yet remain in the Open Category (i.e. low-risk flying, with small, light drones), then the new A2 Certificate of Competency allows you to do this. The A2 C of C allows you to prove that you are competent to the CAA but doesn't require much regulatory oversight.
What is required to get an A2 C of C?
To get the A2 Certificate of Competency, you need to prove your competency to a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE)
(Note: UAVHub was the UK's First RAE! Thought I'd squeeze in that humble brag 😘)
The RAE can then issue you with your A2 C of C, on behalf of the UK CAA.
In order to prove your competency, you'll need to complete the following steps:
- Complete a basic A2 C of C Drone Theory Course ( follow this link for FREE A2 Training)
- Self-Certify that you have met the required flying competency standards
Once you've completed this process, you'll be issued with your A2 Certificate of Competency by the RAE and you'll then be able to exercise the advantages of the certificate when you fly.
What is the advantage of getting an A2 C of C, why should I bother?
The A2 C of C will allow people to operate in the A2 Subcategory of the Open Category.
- If you are flying a 'C2 CE Certified Drone', then you can fly down to 30 metres of uninvolved persons in the 'normal speed' mode and down to just 5 metres of uninvolved persons in a 'low-speed' mode - rather than the 50 metres that is usually associated with the Open Category.
-It's worth noting that none of these C2 CE Certified drones exist, yet. 🤦♀️
Holding an A2 C of C allows drone flights under the 'Transitional Provisions'; which means you could fly a drone like a Mavic 2 Pro down to 50 metres of uninvolved persons, until 31st December 2022 (at which point you'll either have to operate it in the A3 subcategory of the Open Category - 150 metres from built-up areas and 50 metres from uninvolved people or get a GVC and an Operational Authorisation).
How long is the A2 C of C valid for?
The A2 C of C itself is valid for 5 years. When it expires, you'll need to attend a refresher course with a CAA RAE such as UAVHub.
The A2 C of C is going to be an awesome qualification for people to hold, particularly when the drone manufacturers begin to release C2 certified drones... In the interim, the fact that it allows drone pilots to fly down to pretty much the same separation distances as an old PfCO holder could is pretty special.
If you have any questions about the new A2 C of C or want to know more about how the UK CAA Drone Regulations may affect you, download our FREE guide explaining the Drone Regulations in the UK here.