UK Drone Laws: A2 CofC v GVC

A2 CofC v GVC: Which UK Drone Training Course Is Best?

Guide to the A2 Certificate of Competency and General Visual Line of Sight Certificate, including Heliguy training courses and what to do with your DJI drone.

Last updated: Apr 03, 2023

8 minute read

  • An in-depth guide comparing the A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) and the GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate);
  • Find out which is the best training course to take;
  • In general, the A2 CofC is best for operators of small aircraft, while the GVC is for operators of large aircraft;
  • Both the A2 CofC and GVC can be used to conduct commercial operations.

There are two types of UK CAA-approved drone training courses in the UK: The A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency) and the GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate).

Both courses are delivered by heliguy™ - but which one should you choose? Find out in this in-depth blog. 

Drone Training: A2 CofC Vs GVC - Overview

The table below provides an overview of the key differences between the A2 CofC and GVC.


A2 CofC GVC 
Training Requirements Theoretical learning;
Theoretical exam;
Self-guided practical flight training
Theoretical learning;
Theoretical exam;
Operations Manual;
Practical Flight Assessment.
CAA Fees £0 Initial application for UKPDRA-01 Operational Authorisation (after passing GVC): £290;
Annual renewal for Operational Authorisation: £217.
Permitted Drones

A1 Transitional (between 250g and 500g flying weight);

A2 Transitional (between 500g and 2kg flying weight).

All drones between 0-25kg
Commercial Activity Permitted Yes Yes
Validity 5 years 5 years

No costs with CAA;

No Operations Manual;

No Flight Assessment;

Reduced separation distances

Training course is cheaper than the GVC course.

EVLOS/BVLOS Bolt-on modules;

Any SUA (0-25kg);

Governance and operating procedures;

Multiple remote pilots permitted


Limited to certain types of aircraft;

No recognised qualification;

Single remote pilot only.

Longer training pathway;

Comprehensive syllabus;

Longer exam;

Ongoing CAA costs;

Audit and governance;

More expensive course than the A2 CofC.

Who Is It Suited To Operators of small or light aircraft.

Hobbyists who want to fly closer to people.
Operators of large and heavy drones.

Enterprise drone operators.


So, let's take a look at the A2 CofC in more detail.

What Is The A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC)?

The A2 CofC is a remote pilot competency certificate primarily intended to ensure the safe operations of small drones close to uninvolved persons in the Open Category.

The A2 CofC can be used for commercial and non-commercial operations.

Why Do I Need An A2 CofC?

The A2 CofC will enable you to conduct flights close to people in the Open Category.

It will allow you to do the following:

  • Fly A1 Transitional aircraft (250g-500g flying weight, ie DJI Spark and Mavic Air) in the A1 subcategory (no intentional flights over uninvolved people).
  • Fly A2 Transitional aircraft (500g-2kg flying weight, ie DJI Mavic 3 Series, Mavic 2 Series, Phantom 4 Series, Air 2s, Air 2) in the A2 subcategory (no closer than 50m horizontally from uninvolved people). 

What Happens If I Don't Have An A2 CofC?

You could find your flying areas limited.

Without an A2 CofC, you will have to fly A1 Transitional (250g-500g) or A2 Transitional (500g-2kg) drones in the A3 subcategory. The A3 subcategory is more stringent, stating:

  • No uninvolved people present within the area of flight. Maintain 50m separation from any uninvolved people.
  • No flight within 150m horizontally of residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

How Do I Get An A2 CofC?

You can sit the A2 CofC online, with support from heliguy™.

Online learning enables you to access the content anywhere, watch the tutorials on-demand, and rewatch content. heliguy™ instructors will be on hand to help via a virtual chatroom.

The A2 CofC involves theory learning, a theory examination, and self-guided practical flight training.

It covers topics such as basic principles of flight, congested area operations, avoiding collision, battery safety, and environmental factors.

What Do I Do In The A2 CofC Theory Test?

The exam - sat in formal conditions - comprises a minimum of 30 multiple-choice questions, specifically covering meteorology; UAS flight performance; and technical and operational mitigations for ground risk.

The exam is a closed-book format (except when questions require reference to charts, or other sources of specific aeronautical information) and the minimum pass mark is 75%.

The examination will last for 75 minutes. Any candidate with a recognised disability or additional needs (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia) will be given an additional 15 minutes.

The exam is sat remotely with heliguy™ and there is a wide scope to book your slot.

What Is Self-guided Practical Flight Training?

As part of the process to obtain an A2 CofC, remote pilots must conduct a period of self-guided practical flight training.

You must fly within the operating conditions of A3 subcategory, but simulating the operating situations associated with the A2 subcategory. The required currency is two hours in the last three calendar months.

Evidence is required to show that this has been completed, by means of a flight log.

Before conducting the self-practical flight training, you must successfully complete the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service free online competency test, and be in possession of the Flyer ID number associated with that test.

How Long Does An A2 CofC Last For?

The A2 CofC lasts for five years. 

A Closer Look At The GVC

The Specific Category hinges on an Operational Authorisation being held by the drone operator, which has been issued by the CAA, before the operation can be commenced.

What Is An Operational Authorisation?


This means that individuals or organisations that wish to operate a drone within the Specific Category must either provide a risk assessment to the CAA (by following the OSC – Operating Safety Case – process), or adhere to the requirements of the PDRA.

How Do I Get A GVC?

The GVC course comprises a period of theoretical learning, a theory exam, the completion of an Operations Manual, and a Practical Flight Assessment. For this reason, it is a longer training pathway compared to the A2 CofC.

The GVC course syllabus covers topics such as airlaw/responsibilities, UAS airspace operating principles, airmanship/aviation safety, meteorology, and navigation/charts, among other things.

Upon completing the GVC, you apply to the CAA for an Operational Authorisation to fly in the Specific Category. 

The theory learning can be conducted online with heliguy™. 

What Do I Have To Do In The GVC Theory Exam?

The GVC examination – sat in formal conditions – will comprise a minimum of 40 multiple-choice questions.

There will be a minimum of five questions in each of the following subject areas:

  • Air law/responsibilities;
  • UAS airspace operating principles;
  • Airmanship and aviation safety.

The exam will be a closed-book format (except when questions require reference to charts, or other sources of specific aeronautical information) and the minimum overall pass mark is 75%.

Any candidate with a recognised disability or additional needs (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia) will be granted an extra 10% of the allocated assessment time to complete the examination.

The exam can be sat remotely with heliguy™. Alternatively, the GVC can be delivered in a face-to-face closed-course format for enterprise organisations.

What Do I Have To Do In The GVC Practical Flight Test?

The GVC practical flight test is designed to provide assurance that the remote pilot being examined can safely undertake a wide range of VLOS operations within the Specific Category, including those conducted under a published PDRA, whilst adhering to a set of procedures contained within an Operations Manual.

The test will be conducted outdoors and candidates must sufficiently show competence in a range of pre-and-post-flight actions, and in-flight procedures.

All candidates must complete the practical flight test.

It is important that all candidates have completed the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft online training course for basic remote pilot competency and be in possession of the Flyer ID number associated with that test.

What Is The Operations Manual?

This important document, submitted to the CAA, explains how you will conduct operations in the Specific Category under UKPDRA-01.

It covers areas such as safety, incident reporting, flight planning, and emergencies, as well as information about your drones and pilots.

heliguy™'s streamlined Operations Manual creation process shaves days off this once time-consuming task and has been judged to meet the highest industry standards against the requirements of BS ISO 21384-3: 2019.

We also offer a GVC Operations Manual renewal service.

Are There Bolt-on Modules For The GVC?

There are currently no CAA bolt-on modules for the GVC. However, heliguy™ does run a GVC fixed-wing module, to provide pilots with the knowledge and skills they need to operate fixed-wing aircraft safely and effectively. 

How Long Does My GVC Last For?

The GVC, along with any additional modules that are attached to it, is valid for a period of five years from the date that the examination was taken.

A2 CofC v GVC - Summary

The A2 CofC and GVC offer different things for different pilots. Which one you choose depends on the aircraft you have and where you want to operate it.

If you decide you want both, heliguy™ does offer a combined A2 CofC and GVC course.


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