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.
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.
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.