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Thinking about getting CAA Certified? Maybe think again...
7303 20 2019-4-6
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Wellsi
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In the UK, you need to get a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) if you want to fly any drone for money or reward.  Some people do the course because they need to for their job; others just to ensure they fly safely.   


Either way, there's a lot to learn and it's not cheap.  So for those wondering whether to take the plunge, have a look at what's actually involved....




2019-4-6
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Lamplighter55
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Great video Ian. Your conclusions are spot on. It's a tough call regarding the density of info required by the CAA to qualify for a commercial license - one gets the impression its been designed to limit applicants other than those who are either privately well off financially, or who are sponsored by their place of work. As for that price - one could invest in a new drone! I am wondering though how much relevance the PfCO will be latter when the (UK) government's mandated drone pilots' license comes into force. I presume the same rules will apply - but just not with all the meteorological theory!
2019-4-6
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*DM*
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I bought a course some 5 months ago and haven't  done it yet due to lack of time.

Must get on my horse.
2019-4-6
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Wellsi
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Lamplighter55 Posted at 4-6 17:04
Great video Ian. Your conclusions are spot on. It's a tough call regarding the density of info required by the CAA to qualify for a commercial license - one gets the impression its been designed to limit applicants other than those who are either privately well off finically, or who are sponsored by their place of work. As for that price one could invest in a new drone. I am wondering though how much relevance the PfCO will be latter when the (UK) government's mandated drone pilots' license comes into force. I presume the same rules will apply - but just not with all the meteorological theory!

I can't believe for a second that the mandatory registration and training coming in end November will be anything like this.  I think it will be more like a glorified version of the now mandatory safety quiz that the Go 4 app forces you to do before it unlocks the drone from beginner's mode.  
When you compare the price and content of the USA's part 107 (around $135), it's pretty disappointing what the CAA are doing; their course requirements are pretty much tailored for glider pilots.
What would be more useful to a drone flier?  training on appropriate site risk assessments and how to record it, or the aerodynamics of wings and drag?  Yet for some reason, the CAA exam has nothing on risk assessments but loads on aerodynamics and meteorology...
2019-4-6
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A J
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Wellsi Posted at 4-6 23:54
I can't believe for a second that the mandatory registration and training coming in end November will be anything like this.  I think it will be more like a glorified version of the now mandatory safety quiz that the Go 4 app forces you to do before it unlocks the drone from beginner's mode.  
When you compare the price and content of the USA's part 107 (around $135), it's pretty disappointing what the CAA are doing; their course requirements are pretty much tailored for glider pilots.
What would be more useful to a drone flier?  training on appropriate site risk assessments and how to record it, or the aerodynamics of wings and drag?  Yet for some reason, the CAA exam has nothing on risk assessments but loads on aerodynamics and meteorology...

Great vid Ian. I looked into this last year and yep - upwards of a grand and the need to write your own manual made me think twice lol Not to mention commercial liability insurance (costing more than insuring my BMW) and the fact you'll need a business model with clients lined up to make it worth it as there are thousands with a PfCO so competition is high - not for me at this time...
I agree - the test due to come out in Nov as part of the new registration process will more than likely be an on line test for basic safety. You know, how high can you fly etc.
2019-4-7
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Woe
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Great video Ian. Thanks for sharing
2019-4-7
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DJI Stephen
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Hello and good day Ian. Thank you for reaching out and for sharing this informative video. You have created a great video and thank you for your valued support.
2019-4-7
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hallmark007
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Good job Ian, testing in UK is a mirror version of the Irish system, and although I feel some of your frustration I also understand the program is set out for those who will be flying commercially on a full time basis.
Many flying drones weighing 25kg.

Throughout your whole school life you probably had to learn much, of which you will never use, but it will show your ability to learn , which is what will hold most for you as you progress in life.
There will never be any substitute for practical learning, but the key is learning in the first place.

I think in the future we will see different testing for different levels of drone flying and most of this will be mostly around safety’. And will apply to hobbyists enthusiasts etc.

Congrats on passing and if you need help with ops manual or a copy of mine , no problem .
2019-4-7
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Wellsi
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hallmark007 Posted at 4-7 09:51
Good job Ian, testing in UK is a mirror version of the Irish system, and although I feel some of your frustration I also understand the program is set out for those who will be flying commercially on a full time basis.
Many flying drones weighing 25kg.

Thanks Squire.  Yes, valid points.  I guess it's too easy to view much of the course through the eyes of someone who's only flown off the shelf, consumer drones with sophisticated electronics looking after them.  It would be way more appropriate for courses aimed more at the type of drone to be flown.  Most people will only be flying sub 7Kg drones.
But imiho, this course is over the top for 99% of most users; the FAA style 107 is probably more appropriate.  Who knows what will happen over the next year with the new training requirements and registration.  Hopefully the entire training process will be overhauled.

I'm working on the ops manual this week.  I'll PM you if I need a bit of advice; much appreciated.  Ian
2019-4-7
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Quentyn
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Hi Great video - just what i was looking for

i have a few questions -

1, to conform the costs you listed were all in ie £834 covered the course, assessment and flight assessment ?
2, it was 2 days course + 1 day assessment ?
3, i note that you did the assessment with a mavic 2 pro - i thought you had to do the assessment in ATTI mode ?

i have absolutely no commercial aspirations but this really makes me think that this is a target i should set myself for this year
2019-4-7
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Wellsi
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Quentyn Posted at 4-7 12:53
Hi Great video - just what i was looking for

i have a few questions -

Hi Quentyn

Glad to help and it's a great bar to set yourself against.
1. £834 covered the 2 day training, exam and the flight assessment.  The flight assessment was half a day but you're only assessed for around 20 minutes; the rest is around 20 mins site assessment and then waiting for everyone to be assessed.
You get everything you need and there are no other costs for the training, but you do need to pay another £247 to the CAA to file the application and get the actual pfco; I mention that towards the end of the video around 10:00....
Finally, if you mention my channel name Ian in London, they should give you a 10% discount.

Cheers
Ian
2019-4-7
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Wellsi
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Quentyn Posted at 4-7 12:53
Hi Great video - just what i was looking for

i have a few questions -

And on point 3, they specifically checked with the CAA who state you can use a non-atti mode drone like the 2 Pro; the assessor is good to pass you using that, but you get an amber mark rather than green on the flight assessment with the note that atti mode wasn't tested.
Ian
2019-4-7
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Quentyn
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Wellsi Posted at 4-7 13:11
And on point 3, they specifically checked with the CAA who state you can use a non-atti mode drone like the 2 Pro; the assessor is good to pass you using that, but you get an amber mark rather than green on the flight assessment with the note that atti mode wasn't tested.
Ian

aah well a pass is a pass, thanks for that. I dont really have any plans to do direct commercial flying but i think i will go down this route anyway. This was one of the things that was stopping me as i would have had to acquire an old phantom to practice flying in ATTI mode

out of curiosity - if you dont have any specific commercial purposes what do you put in your commercial ops manual ? whilst is 25-30 pages I presume its just a case of spending a few hours typing stuff into a pre formed template ?
2019-4-7
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Quentyn
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Wellsi Posted at 4-7 13:05
Hi Quentyn

Glad to help and it's a great bar to set yourself against.

sorry last question

re the written part of the course, did you do any pre reading ? do you have piloting experience ? or were you just a competent amateur drone pilot who went in cold ( and passed with 96%)
2019-4-7
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Lamplighter55
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Wellsi Posted at 4-6 23:54
I can't believe for a second that the mandatory registration and training coming in end November will be anything like this.  I think it will be more like a glorified version of the now mandatory safety quiz that the Go 4 app forces you to do before it unlocks the drone from beginner's mode.  
When you compare the price and content of the USA's part 107 (around $135), it's pretty disappointing what the CAA are doing; their course requirements are pretty much tailored for glider pilots.
What would be more useful to a drone flier?  training on appropriate site risk assessments and how to record it, or the aerodynamics of wings and drag?  Yet for some reason, the CAA exam has nothing on risk assessments but loads on aerodynamics and meteorology...

... :-) I was being a bit facetious on that last point. But as you said, the current requirement of material covered seems more relevant for conventional pilots flying balloons and gliders.
2019-4-7
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Ken Storm
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Thanks for the info Ian... I guess like the majority I wont be doing that exam.

I liked the way to linked it with driving, needing to know the internal combustion engine etc. But you forgot to say that if it where like that for the UK road license, we would have to renew our license every year.
2019-4-8
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Wellsi
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Quentyn Posted at 4-7 13:37
sorry last question  

re the written part of the course, did you do any pre reading ? do you have piloting experience ? or were you just a competent amateur drone pilot who went in cold ( and passed with 96%)

So at the moment I have no plans for comemrcial operations. I did the training more to prove to myself I could do it and with a genuine interest in what it actually entailed.  I want to make sure what I talk about on my YouTube channel is factually correct.  So whilst i'd done no pre-reading for the course, I had read up a fair bit of CAA publications over the last year anyway specifically for various YouTube videos I'd made.  
That said, most of the exam questions were on stuff I only learned during the two days of training. Luckily I have a technical head and an interest in meteorolgy anyway....
2019-4-9
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G37 Mavic Pro
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Thanks for sharing. Seems very complicated.
2019-8-1
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Chickenhawk
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G37 Mavic Pro Posted at 2019-8-1 21:48
Thanks for sharing. Seems very complicated.

I usually don’t say this but on this issue I’m glad I’m a yankee ;)
2020-1-25
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Chappy838
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I think People should seriously consider trying the BMFA route first. I passed an expensive pfco course 4 years ago when there were only 2 companies who were NQE approved by the CAA. The cost of re-newing Licensing has increased significantly year on year. Also now the CAA charge you for resubmitting your ops manual if it is not correct, this will add to the cost, in my experience they did not charge for making minor corrections though. Completed ops manuals can now be found online by just having a search around, there was a uk universities 2018 ops manual online, when I searched just now. So that is your ops manual sorted if you work from that template. Just update with all the new parts of the air navigation order and CAP 1763. If you go get a certification from the BMFA and insert that in your completed manual and submit it you may well find this works, and may save you a pretty penny!
2020-2-13
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Zubayer.Khan
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Thanks for the share.
2020-4-19
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