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How to: Acquire your drone license

Knowing what it takes to acquire your drone license can help speed up the process and also give you an idea of what to expect.
In this blog, we look to give you a quick run down of how to acquire your drone license.


First before we look at how to acquire your drone license it’s important to understand what a drone license is and who needs one.

A drone license is a form of permission from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) that allows you to fly your drone commercially. The CAA requires you to complete a course and exam that demonstrates you’re ready to fly a drone safely for commercial work. If you don’t have this permission from the CAA then you are unable to fly your drone commercially. If you’re found to be flying your drone commercially then you risk being fined and having your drone removed from you.


Who needs a drone license?

This is quite a straightforward answer. If you’re looking to get into the commercial use of drones you need to have a drone license. Without a drone license you’re flying illegally so make sure if you’re using your drone for a commercial sense you have one.

If you’re just flying your drone as a hobby or for personal use, then you’re not required to have a drone license although I do recommend having some form of drone training. Drone training can help you to fly safely which is a must with drones as they can easily cut people or animals.


You’ve talked about commercial work a lot, what exactly do you classify as commercial?

We’ve actually answered this on our FAQ. Below I’m going to post a small snippet, if you wish to learn more please check out our FAQ page.

‘The Air Navigation Order defines ‘Commercial Operations’ as: Any purpose, other than commercial air transport or public transport, for which an aircraft is flown if valuable consideration is given or promised for the flight or the purpose of the flight.’

What this is extract is telling us is that any flight or service that you charge for is a commercial operation. As long as you don’t charge a price for your work it isn’t classed as commercial work.

Now, onto the most important question:


How do I acquire a drone license?

In principle acquiring a drone license is pretty simple it’s just time consuming. There are 3 critical elements to acquiring your drone license.


2 Day Theory Followed by Exam

The first step is passing an exam which might sound daunting but it isn’t.  This exam comes on the second day of a theory course. Once you sign up to the course with Hummingbird UAV you have access to a student area which provides you with a huge range of resources. Once you’ve passed your exam it’s time to move onto the second phase.


Operations Manual

An operations manual is an essential part of passing the PfCO course. An operations manual outlines how you intend to fly your drone in a commercial sense. For instance, what industries are you going to work in, what services are you going to offer etc. Although we can’t write the operations manual for you we can give you guidance on what it should look like. We discuss more about operation manuals on the second day of your theory course.


Flight Assessment

The flight assessment can be done by us here at Hummingbird UAV. It’s only 10 minutes away from our headquarters at Doncaster Airport so it’s very local. A flight assessment is the final stage of your PfCO course before we send your application off to the CAA.


What next?

After you’ve completed these 3 stages we submit your package (exam pass certificate, operations manual and flight assessment certificate) to the CAA to review. Once the package has been sent off to the CAA it’s just a matter of waiting.


How long does it take to acquire a drone license?

Well that depends. The 3 critical elements take 8-10 weeks to complete with the majority of that time being put into creating an operations manual. After your package has been sent off to the CAA it’s normally a 28 day wait for them to review it.

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