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Drones are becoming more and more popular, with the UK military now training drone pilots as a key part of their strategy. However, drones have also become increasingly controversial for reasons such as privacy concerns and safety issues. As a professional pilot myself, safety is key to allowing the continued enjoyment of this amazing technology.

1. What is a drone license? 

Drones are multipurpose devices that can be used for a wide range of purposes. The most common use is to take aerial shots and video, but drones have also been used in search and rescue missions, delivering items to customers, surveillance operations, or even just flying around as a hobby.

Drone licences are required before someone can fly their drone commercially or recreationally (in certain circumstances).

Drone permissions/ license in the UK

Technically the terms drone license does NOT exist in the UK – instead you get a drone permission/ permit.

  • A drone licence is known as a Permission For Commercial Operations (PfCO)
  • From December 31, 2020, two new types of licences will be created:
  • Operational Authorisation and an A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC)

For operational authorisation, you need to complete a General Visual Line of Sight Certificate Course.

For those interested in obtaining a license (permission) in the UK, you will need to complete a suitable course with a CAA approved provider.

2. What is needed for a drone licence?

The UK government has announced that the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will now be issuing drone permissions to commercial operators.

Permission may be required for those who want to use a drone in any capacity other than as a hobby, such as aerial filming or mapping out buildings. If using larger drones as a hobby, then permission may also be necessary.

Taken from the UK CAA website:

Categories of operation

UAS operations are divided into three operating categories and every flight will fall into one of these, depending on the level of risk. The first and most essential point to address is to determine the category that your flight will be conducted under. The three categories are:

  • Open category:
    • This covers relatively simple operations that present a low risk to other people or property
    • Flights are subject to a set of basic, pre-determined rules, within which there are some further sub divisions
    • In most cases, the UAS operator needs to be registered and the remote pilot needs to pass a simple test, but apart from this there is no requirement for any authorisation from the CAA 
  • Specific category: 
    • This covers medium risk operations, or operations that fall outside the boundaries of the Open category
    • All flights must be conducted in accordance with an operational authorisation, that has been issued by the CAA 
  • Certified category:
    • This covers high risk operations, where the overall risk requires the same approach that is taken for manned aviation in order to maintain safety
    • The UAS must be certificated, the UAS operator must be certified and the remote pilot must hold a suitable licence

A drone licence is a license that allows you to fly drones for commercial purposes. The process of getting this license varies from country to country, so make sure you check with your local CAA.

3. How do I get a drone licence? 

As the popularity of drones has increased, more and more people want to fly them for commercial purposes. The problem is that there are not enough pilots out there with licences to meet this demand. To get a licence you need to complete training from your local CAA approved training organisation.

4. Who needs to have a drone licence and what are the exemptions? 

As a general rule, if you are going to earn money with your drone, then you will need a licence or permit from your local civil aviation authority. The rules are different depending on what you want to do with your drone and there are exemptions for certain situations.

5. When can I fly my drone without getting a licence? 

It is a legal requirement to have a drone license (permit) before you can fly your drone in the UK if your plan to use your drone for purposes other than a hobby or your drone is above a certain size/ category.

When you’re looking to fly your drone, there are a few things that you need to consider. Some drones have the ability to fly autonomously so their flight range is much larger and they can reach destinations without being piloted by an operator. The question of when can I fly my drone without getting a licence? will depend on what type of drone you have and where it’s going to be flown (and its size).

6. Where can’t you fly your drone without getting a license?

There are many places you can fly your drone. But there are also many places where you need to be careful and get a license /permit before flying, or else you could face hefty fines.

No drones

7. Can you make money as a drone pilot?

Recently, there has been a rise in the number of people who are interested in becoming drone pilots. Becoming a drone pilot is not just for hobbyists anymore, it’s now become a full-time profession as drones have become more and more mainstream.

Drones are all the rage right now and with good reason! They can be used for many different things including photography, filming video, inspecting crops and livestock, delivering packages or even just playing games.

8. How much is a drone pilot license or permit?

The drone pilot licence is a piece of paper that can be obtained by the general public and it’s used to fly drones. The cost of the licence varies from country to country, but in Europe it will usually cost between €250-€400.

But what does this paper actually do? It simply certifies that you have passed certain exams on your knowledge of drones and their laws, as well as being able to show your competency in operating the relevant drone.

Some countries also require additional documents before issuing a drone license like proof of citizenship or medical records – so make sure to check with your local aviation authority!

9. How to become a professional drone pilot?

In the UK, there are many drones available for purchase and use. However, it is not always easy to fly these devices due to regulations imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). To legally fly a drone in the UK you need a CAA Drone permit granted after completion of an approved training course.

Drones are a phenomenon that has swept across the world in recent years. From photography to delivering pizza, drones have been used for many purposes. In the United Kingdom, it is now possible to become a licensed drone pilot with just a few days of training from £300 – £800 depending on the course.

In recent years, the use of drones has become more widespread as they have grown in popularity. It is now possible to buy a drone and fly it legally without any regulation or training. Operators who do not comply with the regulations can face large fines.

If I have missed anything or you have any questions – leave a comment in the section below. I would love to hear from you!


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