A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) Drone Training

A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) Drone Training

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What is the A2 CofC?

The A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) is a remote pilot competency certificate primarily intended to assure safe operations of drones close to uninvolved persons. It was introduced as part of the new drone regulations, which started in the UK and throughout Europe in December 2020. The A2 CofC is specifically for the Open Category.

Why do I need an A2 CofC?

The A2 CofC enables operators of small drones to fly close to people. It permits the following:

C2 Rated Aircraft: Under the new drone laws, a class system has been introduced. Drones will be given a class mark (C0-C4) based on certain criteria, such as weight, speed, and safety features. An A2 CofC will allow operators of a C2-rated aircraft (up to 4kg in weight) to operate in the A2 subcategory, meaning they can fly up to 30m horizontally from uninvolved people, or up to 5 metres in low-speed mode. However, no class-marked drones currently exist.

A2 Transitional Aircraft: Because no drones are class-marked, a Transitional Period has been introduced, running from now until December 31, 2022. During this time, an A2 CofC enables operators of drones without a class mark and weighing up to 2kg to fly in the A2 subcategory under Transitional provisions - which stipulates no flights closer than 50m horizontally from uninvolved people.

This applies to the following DJI aircraft: Mavic 2 Series, Phantom 4 Series, and the Mavic Air 2.

A1 Transitional Aircraft: Holders of an A2 CofC can operate non-class-marked drones, with a take-off weight of between 250g and 500g, in the A1 subcategory, under A1 Transitional provisions, during the Transitional Period (until December 31, 2022). This stipulates that there must not be any intentional flight over uninvolved persons.

This applies to the following DJI aircraft: Mavic Air, Spark, and the Mini 2 and Mavic Mini if their take-off weight exceeds 250g.

What Happens If I Haven’t Got an A2 CofC?

If you haven’t got an A2 CofC, you could find yourself limited in terms of where you can fly your drone.

Up until the end of December 31, 2022, if you have a ‘legacy’ drone weighing between 500g and 2kg (such as Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom, Phantom Series) and you don’t have an A2 CofC, you will have to operate in the A3 subcategory (far from people), which stipulates that there can be no uninvolved people present within the area of flight, and no flight within 150m horizontally of residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

Likewise, if you have a ‘legacy’ aircraft which has a take-off weight of between 250g and 500g – such as the DJI Spark and Mavic Air – and you don’t have an A2 CofC, you will be restricted to flying in the A3 subcategory.

How Do I Obtain an A2 CofC?

You can obtain an A2 CofC by completing a one-day Ground School course with heliguy™, via our Learning Management System. This enables you to complete the modules remotely in your own time and at your own convenience. heliguy™ instructors will be available though to assist if you need help or advice along the way, via our live messenger feed.

Once you have covered the syllabus, you can sit your exam remotely.

Unlike the GVC, there are no requirements to undergo a Practical Flight Test or complete an Operations Manual for the A2 CofC.

However, there is a requirement to complete self-guided practical flight training.

New remote pilots must complete a minimum of eight hours of flight time, whilst experienced remote pilots who already have in excess of six hours of flight time will only need to conduct a minimum of two hours flight time specifically towards the A2 CofC qualification.

Remote pilots are then required to submit evidence of their achievement for validation by our training instructors.

The self-practical flight training can be completed before or after the ground school course, but it is important that you have registered with the CAA and obtained a Flyer ID before conducting the practical flight training.

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. 

What Do I Have To Do In The A2 CofC Theory Examination?

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 and there is a wide scope to book your slot.

How Long Does An A2 CofC Last For?

Your qualification lasts for five years, after which you’ll have to renew it.

Does the A2 CofC allow me to operate commercially?

Yes. You can use an A2 CofC to fly commercially or recreationally, so long as the flight is conducted within the boundaries of the subcategory you are flying in.

If your planned mission or missions exceed the limits of the Open Category, then you should take a GVC course to enable you to apply for an Operational Authorisation (similar to the old PfCO) to fly in the Specific Category.

In some cases, you might have a drone which can be flown in the A2 Subcategory - such as a Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced or Phantom 4 RTK, as they are under 2kg - but you require greater flexibility for your missions, so the GVC is the more prudent route.

heliguy™ advises that if you are investing in enterprise platforms, or have aspirations of scaling your operations within the enterprise sector, then obtaining a GVC will provide greater scope.

Full Description

A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) Course

The A2 CofC remote pilot competency course for hobbyists and pilots of small drones.

A2 CofC Drone Training Course Benefits

  • CAA approved course delivered by our experienced instructors, who have trained more than 3,000 candidates and drone-pilot teams from the likes of Balfour Beatty, Sellafield Sites, Manchester City FC, and BBC Natural History Unit.
  • Flexible and on-demand online learning through heliguy™ Learning Management System, with engaging course content and interactive support from our training team.
  • Sit your theory test remotely for a more relaxed exam environment, with wide scope to book a time that suits you.
  • Unlimited free resits.
  • Industry-specific closed courses to provide your organisation with tailored content. We've delivered these courses to the likes of Network Rail and emergency services across the UK.
  • Dedicated support from our training team after passing your exam, while the Learning Management System offers partner discounts, bonus material, regulation updates, and additional industry courses for value-added learning.
  • No need to complete a time-consuming Operations Manual, conduct a practical flight assessment, or apply to the CAA.  
  • The A2 CofC is valid for five years.
"Carrying out my A2 CofC course on the Heliguy Learning Management System syllabus and I have just sat my online exam. The whole experience with Heliguy has been awesome. Every contact for advice or any query has been met with a friendly can-do attitude by staff with a wealth of expertise and knowledge. I simply cannot envisage using any other training establishment for any further course or training need."

Ray Mills

Make Money From Your Drone Flights

The A2 CofC is a powerful drone competency to have, opening up a world of opportunity for UAV pilots who are flying in the Open Category.

Holders of an A2 CofC are able to operate recreationally, or in a commercial capacity without needing to obtain a specific commercial qualification or go through the complexities of the GVC course. There's no Operations Manual to complete, no Practical Flight Assessment to pass, and no need to apply to the CAA for permissions.  

Obtaining an A2 CofC will enable you to fly small drones 'close to people'; up to 5 metres in some cases, depending on your drone.

For operators of current DJI drones, an A2 CofC is particularly important to enjoy more freedom with aircraft such as the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom, the Mavic Air 2, and the Phantom Series.

The A2 CofC was introduced as part of the new drone regulations which started at the end of December 2020. Click to read our UK Drone Laws blog for a comprehensive guide.    

The A2 CofC course involves a multiple choice theory exam and a period of practical flight training. 

Take the course online with heliguy™, and learn from a team which has trained more than 3,000 candidates and led closed courses for Network Rail and the UK emergency services.

If your desired operations fall outside the boundaries of the Open Category, or you have aspirations of growing in the enterprise drone sector, you should take a GVC course with heliguy™.

heliguy™ Learning Management System

Complete your A2 CofC via the heliguy™ Learning Management System, our dedicated online drone training platform.  

The A2 CofC is typically a one-day Ground School course, culminating in a theory examination. However, the LMS means that you can complete the syllabus on-demand - accessing the content anywhere and learning at your own pace and convenience.

Our expert instructors will be on hand throughout your learning experience to provide guidance and support and can be contacted via our live messenger.

The A2 CofC syllabus is covered through a range of methods, such as videos, quizzes, and task sheets. An example is presented in the video, left. Our blended learning solution is designed to make the completion of the A2 CofC course a fun and engaging experience.

The A2 CofC course culminates in a theory test. Candidates can sit the exam remotely, using a webcam to maintain virtual exam conditions. Our four-strong training team provide flexible invigilation slots, giving you wide scope to book a time that suits you.

Our Learning Management System is more than a training portal. It is a hub that keeps candidates informed about changes to regulation, policy updates, and provides advice and guidance long into your future career as a professional remote pilot.  

A FREE New Pilot Course is also available on the Learning Management System to provide an overview of UK drone regulations and provide a sample of online learning with heliguy™.

Grow Your Drone Business With heliguy™

heliguy™ is an experienced drone training provider, having taught thousands of candidates since launching the training division in 2015.

Our expert instructors have created rich course content to help you pass the A2 CofC exam.

But that is only the beginning - as heliguy™ offers an ecosystem beyond the A2 CofC syllabus to enable you to grow your drone operations.

Closed Courses: Industry-specific closed courses are a major part of heliguy™'s training provision, having delivered tailored content to the likes of Network Rail and many of the UK's emergency services. These courses - delivered to multiple candidates from a single organisation - provide a tailored and standardised approach to training. We also run CPD courses to enhance pilot capabilities, and industry application courses such as aerial surveying and industrial inspection.

heliguy™ Eco-system: heliguy™ offers an integrated end-to-end solution of services, including consultancy; hardware support, supply and swap-outs from a vast stock inventory; drone-defence solutions; in-house DJI-trained technicians for custom projects, repairs and drone maintenance to minimise downtime; access to rental equipment; service level agreements; and a logistics network for rapid supply. We use this approach to serve major drone programmes, such as Costain, Balfour Beatty, Network Rail, and the Ministry of Defence.

OSC Consultation and Operations Manual Renewal:  heliguy™ provides a foundation for you to grow your drone operations. If you decide to expand your enterprise by taking a GVC course to apply for an Operational Authorisation for the Specific Category, we offer an Operating Safety Case consultancy to enable more bespoke missions outside Standard Permissions. We also offer an Operations Manual renewal service to ensure you are flying legally and safely. 

"Our team are experts in search and rescue, but not in paperwork! Thankfully, when we turned to Heliguy for support with updating our Operations Manual, they were only too happy to help. They helped us to include night authorisation for flights outside of daylight hours and to bring the Operations Manual up to date with all the new regulations. I’m pleased to say after sending the manual off to the CAA and thanks to the help of Heliguy we quickly received our renewed Operational Authorisation."

Rob Stordy, Deputy Team Leader, Buxton Mountain Rescue Team

Frequently Asked Questions

A2 CofC Drone Training FAQs

Answers to your most frequently asked questions about the A2 CofC drone training course.

What Happens If I Fail The A2 CofC Exam?

heliguy™ offers free resits. If you have not completed your practical flight training within a year of passing your exam, you will be required to re-sit the exam.

Do I need any experience with drones before attending the A2 CofC Course?

No. Whether you have experience or not - our drone training school helps take you from novice to an A2 CofC-qualified drone pilot, regardless of any existing drone experience.

Our curriculum is well-paced to ensure that those more recently entering the industry can get up to speed, while experienced pilots will still be getting value at every stage.

Do I need any kind of insurance before I take the course?

No, because the A2 CofC does not require a practical flight assessment. 

However, candidates must have EC785/2004 compliant insurance to operate in a commercial capacity.

What are the Open, Specific and Certified drone categories?

Under the new drone laws, three categories will define where drones can be flown.

These categories are:

Open: Operations that present a low (or no) risk to third parties.

Specific: Operations that present a greater risk than that of the Open category, or where one or more elements of the operation fall outside the boundaries of the Open Category. Holding an Operational Authorisation allows you to fly in this category.

Certified: Operations that present an equivalent risk to that of manned aviation. This category is for high-complexity missions.

The Open Category is broken down into three subcategories:

A1: Fly over people.
A2 : Fly close to people.
A3 : Fly far from people.

Each of these subcategories has more specified criteria of where/how your drone can be operated.

More Information On New UK Drone Regulations

What Are The New Drone Classes?

As part of the new regulations, a new class system for drones has been introduced. Each make of drone will have its own class rating – from C0 to C4 – which will be based on certain criteria, such as weight, maximum speed and other features based around safety and geo-awareness.

Specific classes of drone can be flown in specific subcategories of the Open category.

Currently, no drones meet the current class requirements, so no C0-C4 aircraft exists.

Explore New Drone Class System

What Is The Transitional Period?

Because no drones currently meet the class requirements, a Transitional Period is currently running, up until December 21, 2022, to give manufacturers the chance to bring out C0-C4 drones.

This means that you can continue to fly your current DJI drones - to become known as legacy aircraft - in accordance with the new rules.

A2 CofC vs GVC - Which Do You Need?

I have a Ground School Certificate, Flight Assessment or Operations Manual. Can I finish my training with heliguy™?

In the past - heliguy™ was happy to assist candidates who had started their training elsewhere.

However, due to the improvement in the structure of the A2 CofC and GVC courses when compared to the PfCO, there is no longer the chance to switch midway through your training.

If you're in the position where you have completed some part of your training, please give the training team a call on 0191 296 1024 to discuss what options you may have.

Do I need a Commercial Drone License or a Hobbyist Licence?

As of the time of writing, there is no hobbyist drone license in the UK.

Whether or not you'll need some form of qualification depends on the circumstances of your flight.

Use the button below to learn more about the "categories" of flight.

Open Category Drone Flights

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