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CAA Training for UAV Pilots

Heliguy (Colena Ltd) is a Civil Aviation Authority approved National Qualified Entity. Our courses are a cut above our competitors; machine relevant, offering real-world scenario planning and tailored specifically to smaller drones. Our courses are 3-day intensive training is designed to fit in all the material we think you should be aware of to operate safely. We are focussed on adding value to our customers and supporting you from ground school & operations manual production right up to your final flight planning assessment.

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Qualification - C-DOT & PfCO

To operate a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) commercially within the UK, operators require a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). In order to obtain a PfCO operators must be competent UAS pilots and have in place an Operations Manual which has been ratified by or on behalf of the CAA.

Our course has been tailored to develop a pilot's knowledge of regulation for Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) flights and help provide the necessary tools for safe operations in a variety of environments. Both the theory assessment and the practical assessment are in place to evaluate the pilot's capability to carry out a safe operation in both planning and execution and provide the necessary certification required for application for PfCO.

If you still don't know whether you'll need a license to operate your drone in your own specific set of circumstances - read our drone licence guide for some clear advice on whether or not our training is for you.



The Pathway to Permission for Commercial Operation

When an extended permission may be needed:

  • Flying at night
  • Operating at a height exceeding 400ft
  • At a distance beyond VLOS of the pilot or spotter, or a maximum range of 500m, whichever is the least
  • Operating in close proximity to people, vehicles or structures
  • Operating a drone within London or other congested areas*
Safe Flight


CAA Requirements




The CAA requires potential UAV operators to demonstrate pilot competence before any permissions are issued. However, they do not currently undertake this training themselves and approve other entities to carry it out on their behalf. 

To achieve your PfCO, it is crucial to pass a ground exam and flight test through a National Qualified Entity (NQE) such as Heliguy.

To guarantee the most comprehensive training experience, we ensure that our in-depth course and subsequent trusted recommendation to the CAA remains strictly in line with current rules and regulations.

Upon completion of the training, we contact the CAA with our recommendation, leading to successful trainees being awarded their PfCO certificate.




Operators of unmanned aircraft must comply with regulation EC 785/2004 on Insurance Requirements for Air Carriers and Aircraft Operators.

Your policy isn't just to cover equipment for loss or damage. As a professional UAS pilot you need public liability insurance so that if your drone happens to crash and ends up causing some damage, you don't have to pay. The cover can be arranged for up to £10M.

After passing the ground school theory exam you can apply for a policy. You'll be covered for the remainder of the course, provided that it is carried out with an experienced trainer.

You will certainly need the policy to be in place before you can apply to the CAA for your PfCO.

Find out how Heliguy can help to find the right insurance for you.


Cost of Renewal

Cost of Renewal

With regards to the cost of the PfCO permission, the CAA state the following in their document covering fees, ORS5 No.323:

"On making an initial or renewal application for a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) under Article 94/95 of the Air Navigation Order 2016;  to conduct operations involving unmanned aircraft systems and SUA, the applicant shall pay to the CAA the relevant charge or charges specified below:"

You are required to renew your PfCO with the CAA annually.


Aircraft MassApplication Cost
7kg or less£173
Greater than 7kg - 20kg£173
Aircraft MassRenewal Cost
7kg or less£130
Greater than 7kg - 20kg£130


*When planning to operate in any congested areas, pilots and operators must refer to the information notices IN-2014/184 and also IN-2014/190. The information within these notices is very detailed about flying in these areas and states that pilots and operators have to abide by the provisions outlined in the Information Notice.

London is specifically named due to its population density and also the number of airports and helicopter traffic in the area. Helicopter routes operating under low-level Visual Flight Rules within London cover the majority of the River Thames area. As this greatly affects SUAS flights, it's important to read up on all of the available information that can be found on helicopter routes within the London Control Zone chart.



 Philip Bloom






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