CAA to impose fine for rejected PfCO drone applications

Drone operators applying for or renewing a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) face a £124 fine if their submission is not up to scratch, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced.

Applications with three or more mistakes, where the applicant has made no attempt to keep up to date with the latest drone legislation, will be rejected and face the financial penalty.

The CAA has said that this new strict approach – to be implemented over the next few months, although a precise date has not yet been given – is ‘mostly aimed at renewal applications’ and is in response to a number of PfCO holders using the process as a consultancy service for their renewal instead of an application service.

Heliguy, the UK’s leading drone specialist and PfCO trainer, has made a commitment to help all of its former PfCO candidates to properly complete and update their Operations Manual, to ensure that they don’t fall foul of the rejection fee.

As well as the plans to introduce the fine, the CAA has announced that drone operators will no longer need to submit insurance as part of the PfCO application/renewal process.

The Most Common Reasons For Refusing PfCO Applications

The CAA has said it currently puts on hold approximately 50% of all applications, with the majority being renewals.

Under the new system, a knocked back application will be a costly affair! The £124 penalty will be on top of the mandatory £250 charge for the initial application and the annual £190 renewal fee.

The most common reasons for an application being rejected or pending 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  • Out of date reference document table.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’.
  • 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  • Out of date ANO (Air Navigation Order) references.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 updated.
  • Logbooks not stating names of pilots.
  • Applying for pre-existing privileges e.g. multi-rotor.
  • Operating at night without additional procedures.

The CAA says that, ahead of introducing the rejection fee, it is currently amending existing online form to help assist applicants.

Heliguy Here To Help

Heliguy – one of DJI’s largest and trusted European channel suppliers and a recognised Gold Partner – is an experienced and trusted CAA-approved National Qualified Entity (NQE) and has trained pilots from major companies such as Balfour Beatty, BBC Natural History Unit, Sellafield Sites and Manchester City FC.

Our renowned PfCO training is held at a range of stunning and easily-accessible venues around the UK and our classroom-style courses give candidates the chance to learn in a dynamic and interactive environment, access on-demand support and industry knowledge from our trainers and network with our staff and fellow candidates.

Being an award-winning DJI retailer, we bring a range of demonstration equipment from our vast inventory of stock to our PfCO courses, giving you hands-on with a selection of cutting-edge drones and sensors and even fly DJI’s latest releases, if time permits.

Heliguy also provides unrivalled support after the PfCO course (known as Ground School) is completed. As part of this commitment to all of the PfCO holders who have trained with us, Heliguy will work with them to make sure that their Operations Manual is up to date.

The Elvetham, in Hampshire, is one of our stunning training venues.

They can either do it for free, with support from us, or pay £99 and we’ll tweak their Operations Manual with all of the relevant updates.

Heliguy’s Head of Training, Edward Jackson, said: “Every PfCO holder or applicant who has undergone their training with Heliguy will always have on-going support from us after completing the course.”

Edward Jackson, Heliguy’s Head of Training.

To find out more about our PfCO course, click here, or to contact the training team give us a call or send an email.

Changes to Insurance

As part of changes to the PfCO application process, the CAA has also announced that, over the coming weeks/months, it will be removing the requirement of assessing applicants’ insurance.

It will mean that, as part of the assessment process, PfCO applicants will no longer be required to upload insurance documentation. They will still be required to obtain insurance in the same way as stated in the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations 2005 and EC Regulation 785/2004, but will only have to declare at the time of application that insurance is in place.

However, if audited, applicants will be required to present evidence of their insurance.

The CAA says that it is currently amending its online form.

1 Comment

  • Matt Leese

    Wow. Wow. Wow! How much more will the CAA squeeze out of us genuine PFCO holders? So many constant changes that have to be reflected perfectly in our OSC Manuals. 50% of all renewals put on hold? What a nice little earner for the CAA. So many illegal operators still out there making money and getting away with it. No meaningful enforcement. Really feel like giving up. Bending over backwards to stay legal and safe and still getting spanked by the CAA.