The following is a guest post from Ben Duke, training expert at UK-based commercial drone specialists Coptrz.
The drone industry is growing at a rapid rate so it’s incredibly important to understand the permissions you need to fly your drone, particularly for commercial enterprises.
One important question is who actually needs a license? If you are simply a hobbyist drone pilot in the U.K., a license is not needed. Similarly, you don’t need a license to own a drone. It’s important you keep an eye out on the CAA regulations to ensure you stay the right side of the law. Although you don’t need a qualification, you are required to operate your drone safely and be aware of the public. On the other hand, if you are piloting a drone for a commercial business or for commercial work you will need to obtain a PfCO qualification.
What is a PfCO?
A PfCO is essentially a drone ‘license’. License is in inverted commas because it’s not actually a license, it’s a permission. UK permissions are granted through partaking in a CAA drone training course from a CAA approved trainer. Once you’ve partaken in the training, you will then need to complete both a practical and theory test to be granted your ‘license’.
The PfCO allows a drone operator to use a small, unmanned aircraft. This UAV must weigh under 20KG and can be used for commercial projects. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using the drone for imaging or as part of a wider area of work for a client or company, you will still need a license. It is important to check the regulations before flying, just to ensure that you don’t get caught out.
Do you need a license to actually own a drone?
You don’t need a license to simply own one, however, you will need to ensure that it’s registered to a named owner. There is discussion at the CAA that this may eventually result in your taking a test similar to a vehicle test, however for now you are safe to buy a drone with no restrictions. For now, the sky is the limit!
If I don’t need a license, why should I take a course?
With drone technology increasing at such a rate, in the long run having a PfCO could be incredibly beneficial. Training courses will allow you to obtain a full, up-to-date package of skills, knowledge and experience needed to apply for your PfCO.
Interested in finding out more? UK drone specialists COPTRZ are running an online webinar showing you “How to Become a Commercial Drone Pilot”: https://go.coptrz.com/becomeadronepilot.