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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.




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.307:

"On making an application for a permission under Article 166(5) of the Order to conduct aerial work involving a small unmanned aircraft, the applicant shall pay to the CAA the charge appropriate to the aircraft mass as shown [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





Training FAQs

How do I sign up for the CAA PfCO course?

Contact us for a discussion about our training. 

What actions are required to gain my permission?

Completion of the ground school and practical assessment prove you have the required knowledge base. Creating a thorough, well-thought-out Operations Manual demonstrates that you have safe systems in place to carry out the proposed activity. If you meet the practical criteria and it is deemed that your Ops Manual is up to standard, the CAA will issue you a Permission For Aerial Work.

What is the average time before the permission is received?

Our record is 28 days but the average time is between 2 to 3 months. However, this is all down to the work put in by the candidate.

What does the permission cover?

This permission allows you to operate commercially as a drone pilot subject to all pertinent rules and regulations.

What insurance is needed?

Your insurance needs to meet EC 785/2004 for commercial use. For your flight test, there are some companies that will do one-day insurance including the BFMA DDD insurance (this is covered within the training course). If you’re unsure about insurance, speak to a member of Heliguy's staff.

What happens if I fail the ground exam?

You are entitled to a free resit which you will be able to take after 10 days.

Do you offer an abbreviated course for people who already hold aviation licences?

Yes. Pilots with a PPL are only required to complete the Operation Manual and a practical flight assessment. The price of this is £600.

Is the flight test included in the price?

Yes. The practical flight test is included in the £1,599 price.

Do I need to take a test to fly at night?

Not at all. Night Permission can be added to your PfCO for no additional charge. We will provide guidance on the process for integrating this into your Operations Manual, whilst outlining the risk mitigation and human factors aspect of flying at night.

Is there any pre-course learning to do before the course?

No. At this time, we do not require any pre-course learning to be completed. This is to ensure that all of our candidates get thorough training on each part of the course.

When is the practical flight test?

The practical flight test time and location will be arranged after you successfully complete your Operations Manual. Once this has been signed off then you will discuss time, date and location with your practical flight assessor.

Do we need to bring our drone?

You are not required to bring our drone with you to the ground school. If you are attending the course at our Newcastle office, you can bring your drone and use our DJI Repair Centre to get it repaired or upgraded whilst you are on the course.

When do I need to arrive?

You need to arrive at the ground school location for 8.30am for registration. It is best practice to turn up to the flight test location 30 minutes before your set test time for preparation.




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