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Drone operators be warned! Rejected PfCO Operations Manuals will incur a fine, says CAA

Man operating a drone in a field

Future rejected submissions face a £124 fine, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced.

Three strikes and you’re out of pocket by £124 going forwards. Just three mistakes on your PfCO application will now hit you with a penalty. The fines are targeting applications which aren’t up-to-date with the latest updates to the ever-changing drone regulations.

The CAA has indicated that this strict new policy will come into place within months, however, no definite date has been given. The new policy will help ensure drone operators aren’t ignorant to the latest legislation and reduce the number of people re-submitting their application and relying on CAA feedback to correct their lack of knowledge. 

Currently, half of all applications are inadequate and put on hold, with the majority being renewals. Under the new system such a knock back will incur a £124 penalty on top of the mandatory £250 charge for initial application and £190 renewal fee. A simple renewal can begin to get costly fast.


Why are applications rejected?

The most common reasons why applications are currently rejected are:

Initial Applications

  • Name stated on the Ops Manual does not match the application form
  • Out of date reference document table
  • Referring to the term ‘person in charge’ instead of the new accepted terms ‘SUA operator’ and ‘remote pilot.’
  • Nominated pilots not stated in Ops Manual
  • Confusion over the 50m from PVVS and congested area


Renewal Applications

  • Out of date ANO (Air Navigation Order) references
  • Amendment log and version control not being update
  • Logbooks not stating names of pilots
  • Applying for pre-existing privileges e.g. multi-rotor
  • Operating at night without additional procedures
  • Log book not showing flights over 2 hours in the past 3 months


Changes to insurance policy

As part of these changes, the CAA has announced that drone operators will no longer need to submit insurance as part of the PfCO application/renewal process. Commercial pilots are still legally required to obtain insurance in the same way as stated in the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations and EC Regulation 785/2004 and will have to self-declare upon application that insurance is in place. If audited, applications will be required to present evidence of compliant insurance for the appropriate fights that they have taken, i.e., their insurance certificate.


What can I do to ensure my application isn’t rejected?

UAV Training drone licence

Hummingbird UAV offers full support to all of its former PfCO candidates to help them properly complete and update their Operations Manual, to ensure that they don’t fall foul of this new penalty. 

Remember, you can renew your PfCO up to 90 days before its expiry date for £185. However, if your renewal is submitted after this date, it is treated as a new application by the CAA. When this happens, the price jumps up to £247, so it’s well worth leaving yourself enough time to make the changes. If you need to renew your licence or have any questions in regards to the removal of insurance documentation or any policies mentioned above, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can chat to us on facebook and our website (we typically reply in 2 minutes), or give us a call on 01302 802221.

All the best with your renewal!

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