Becoming a Commercial Drone Pilot

//Becoming a Commercial Drone Pilot
Commercial Drone

So You Want to be a Commercial Drone Operator

You may be considering becoming a commercial drone operator but need a little help with the qualifying process. Well don’t worry, this short guide should offer some assistance. To operate commercially in the United Kingdom, organisations and individual operators must obtain an approval from the Civil Aviation Authority or CAA. This approval is known as a Permission for Commercial Operations of PfCO and will only be granted once an acceptable operations manual is submitted.

The Operations Manual

The operations manual is a concise document which explains which individuals make up the commercial organisation, what they intend to do, what equipment they will use and how they propose to conduct these operations. Many people struggle with this document but it really isn’t as difficult as it may first seem.

There are individuals and company’s around who offer to write this document for you. However, this isn’t really recommended because the intent of some statements may not be fully recognised and it is often difficult to fully understand the intricacies of such a document if it wasn’t written by the organisation using it.

The CAA make a statement which advises that the operations manual should be an ‘original work’ and not a fill in the blanks templates document which aims to satisfy all needs.


Commercial Insurance

In addition to the operations manual, the Civil Aviation Authority or CAA will require adequate commercial insurance cover. Standard insurance policies offered by hobby insurance providers such as the Large Model Association or the British Model Flying Association are simply just not adequate. The CAA will insist on a copy of the insurance certificate identifying the organisation insured, the aircraft to be utilised and a statement which confirms compliance with the requirement EC 785/2004.

Proof of Competence

Remote pilots listed in the operations manual must have proof of competence before they can be accepted by the CAA. This proof must include theoretical knowledge and practical skills. So how do you obtain this proof?. Well, the CAA has accredited certain organisations known as National Qualified Entities or NQE’s to conduct these assessments and issue recommendations regarding pilot competence but this isn’t the only way. In certain circumstances, the CAA may accept a hobby type achievement such as a BMFA B certificate (providing it is in the correct discipline) as proof of competence. Similarly, a manned aviation private or commercial pilots licence may be accepted as proof of theoretical knowledge leaving only the practical assessment to be conducted.

European Advanced Drone Academy

Still Unsure?

Here at the European Advanced Drone Academy we are open and honest, transparency is our goal. If you are not sure if your experience, skills or qualifications are adequate to count as proof of competency or just want to know which elements (if any) you need to complete, just give us a call. We are available on 03301 132 751 to take your call and offer free, friendly, no obligation advice to yourselves regarding your specific situation. You have our guarantee that we would not purposely mislead you in any way or try to sell you a course that you just don’t need. In the majority of cases, individuals just need a little guidance and advice and can often get by with some help on their operations manual. If you would prefer to drop us an email, feel free to use the contact form found here.

20 Percent Off

Introductory Offer

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Basic Remote Operator Course

Interactive BRO Coursebook

Mock Theory Examination

BRO Course Guidance Document

Operations Manual Review Process

1 Day Theoretical Ground School Course

Theoretical Examination & Practical Assessment

* Free Operations Manual Creation Document

* Free Practical Skills Training Session

* Free Website Package & Six Months Hosting

* Free Micro Drone (subject to stock)



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By |2018-12-31T01:08:28+00:00April 16th, 2018|General Interest|Comments Off on Becoming a Commercial Drone Pilot

About the Author:

Steve has been designing, building and operating remotely piloted aircraft for over thirty years. Since 2008, he has focused specifically on multi-rotor aircraft designing and building many of his own concepts. Steve has actively taken part in commercial work, pilot training, operational and flight skills assessments and airworthiness inspections.
Can I work for or with the European Advanced Drone Academy?2018-04-06T22:58:45+00:00

Of course you can. The European Advanced Drone Academy are always on the look-out for hard working conscientious individuals who are passionate about the ‘drone’ industry. Why not click on the button below to access the application form and send us the latest version of your curriculum vitae today.

Click Here to Send Your C.V.
How do you write an Operations Manual?2018-04-06T22:58:52+00:00

This is a common question. However, we provide our candidates with an extremely useful guidance document which breaks down and clearly explains exactly what is required in each section of the document.

How long does it take to become a commercial drone pilot?2018-04-06T22:58:59+00:00

There is no real timescale, the theoretical element is taken at your own pace followed by a two day course and assessment. Theoretically, the course could be completed in as little as a week. However, there is a waiting time for the Civil Aviation Authority to issue for Permission for Commercial Work which is required before you can operate of around 28 days.

How do I apply for my Pfco?2018-04-06T22:59:06+00:00

You will need to fill in the Civil Aviation Authority form called SRG1320 and send it along with an operations manual, recommendations from EADA (your NQE) as proof of competence, proof of currency (2 hours flight time in the last 3 months) and the application fee directly to the CAA.

Click Here for the the SRG1320
Are there any hidden costs?2018-04-06T22:59:14+00:00

No, there are no hidden fees for the BRO course. What you see is what you get.

We do offer additional services that you can utilise if needed, such as drone hire for flight assessments (this is for anyone that hasn’t yet decided on what equipment will be best for their organisational requirements)

There are no nasty surprises waiting for you, the price you see advertised is the price you pay.

The CAA’s prices can be found on their website. This covers submissions, renewals etc.

What is the largest drone I can fly?2018-04-06T22:59:20+00:00

Drones are classified by weight. There are 4 categories:

  • 0-7 kg
  • 7-20 kg
  • 20-150 kg
  • 150 kg and above

Over 20 kg requires additional certification

What experience do I need to book onto the flying practical skills element of the course?2018-04-06T22:59:28+00:00

No skills are required, however the better your initial skill level is, the more you will get out of the course. The Civil Aviation Authority required a minimum of 2 hours flight time in the last 3 months.

I don’t have a drone, do I need one to start the course?2018-04-06T22:56:42+00:00

No. The theoretical and operation manual elements can be completed before hand and you can even hire one of our aircraft during the practical training and assessment stage. However, it makes more sense to practice and qualify on your own aircraft as each drone has its own unique features and characteristics.

If you have no previous experience at flying a drone at all beforehand, we would strongly advise you obtain some form of help or tuition to avoid picking up ‘Bad Habits’ from the start. Flight training can be booked through the EADA to help get you off the ground safely.

What if the weather is bad on my test day?2018-04-06T22:59:40+00:00

Unfortunately we cannot control the weather yet, (we are working on it) but you can re-book onto another suitable flight assessment at no additional cost.

Why is the BRO ground school course only one day?2018-04-06T22:59:49+00:00

The European Advanced Drone Academy offer the BRO course to satisfy the competency requirements when applying for a Permission for Commercial Operations from the Civil Aviation Authority. Our BRO course differs from the majority of other NQE’s in format, this allows for a greater element of ‘home learning’. Consequently, this means that the ground school element can be reduced down to just one day which reduces the need for expensive hotel bookings. For more information about the BRO course, please visit the BRO Course Page or call us on 03301 132 751

Can I fly a drone without getting my PfCO from the CAA?2018-04-06T22:59:56+00:00

Anyone is permitted to fly Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for hobby purposes without a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO). The term RPAS covers any aircraft whether it be fixed wing, traditional helicopter or multi-rotor configuration. However, if you intend to operate these aircraft commercially then you will need a PfCO. In all situations, it is strongly recommended that adequate insurance is obtained.

What if I fail my test?2018-04-06T23:00:06+00:00

Don’t worry! You will receive detailed feedback about exactly what areas you need to work on to improve your knowledge and skills and increase your chances of obtaining a sucessfull outcome.

EADA offer one free theory examination and practical assessment so it takes the pressure off knowing you can resit the exams if needed.

What if I purchase another aircraft?2018-04-06T23:00:15+00:00

Providing that the new aircraft is in the same weight, type and operational category as the aircraft you already have a licence to operate then you can simply complete the following:

  • Add the aircraft details and serial number to your current Operations Manual
  • Advise your commercial insurance provider
  • Advise European Advanced Drone Academy of the addition


If you purchase another aircraft which is not covered by your PfCO certificate,  you must complete the following:

  • Advise European Advanced Drone Academy of the addition
  • Advise your commercial insurance provider
  • Book a practical assessment to be conducted with that aircraft and all pilots who require the licence category
  • Add the aircraft details and serial number to your current Operations Manual
  • Advise the Civil Aviation Authority about the addition to your fleet and provide (EADA can help with this)
What is a PfCO?2018-04-06T23:00:22+00:00

A PfCO or Permission for Commercial Operations is a certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority which is required to operate a drone commercially in UK airspace. Until August 2016 this was known as a Permission for Aerial Work or PfAW.

What is a Commercial Operation?2018-04-06T23:00:27+00:00

A Commercial Operation is any operation of an aircraft other than for public transport which is available to the public. Operations performed under a contract between an operator and customer in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration is also considered as a Commercial Operation.


What is a Permission For Commercial Operations?2018-04-06T23:00:33+00:00

A Permission For Commercial Operations (PFCO) is a licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which is required by anyone who wishes to operate an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for the purposes of Commercial Work. All operators are required to be aged eighteen or over.


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