Any CAA / PfCO approved?

Something I’ve been quite interested in, just not sure I’d get a return on my investment…

Back in the day, a little plane would fly over a village and take some aerial photos. They’d charge about £500 quid for this.

I’m thinking there could be a market for this, people with “posh houses”, farms, campsites, small businesses, etc.

Only problem is, you couldn’t realistically charge £500 notes these days. You’d probably get some orders on £250 or so.

Which means a lot of photo-taking before getting your money back on training, CAA paperwork, etc.

Anyone here qualified?

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I’m qualified. Went through my training back in 2012 when I was 22 with EuroUSC who have since gone bust due to their questionable business practices.
We were REALLY early to the scene back then and got work with a few production companies etc and the pay was good when you found the work. We then suffered a fly away, and due to other work commitments at the time decided to have a short break from the aerial filming world. Wish I hadn’t, as there are now a lot of operators and the prices have been driven down considerably since. We never had any work requiring just photography back when we operated. It was always video, or both. We were flying a droidworx heavy lift octo with DSLR weighing in at about 8-9kg fully laden.

I’ve just started trading again, renewed my licence and have just made my new website live. I’ve only been live around 3 - 4 weeks now and have had a couple of phone calls inquiring about work already with little marketing behind me. I don’t know how much the training costs now, but we covered ours with the first 2 jobs we flew. I’d say its a good thing to have under your belt if you want to be able to offer the occasional paid-for service to people. Making it a full time job is a lot of hard work and an uphill struggle it seems, especially if you want to be getting into proper filmy stuff with so many established names out there now.


Thanks for the detailed reply @Blacksails mate :+1:

Yeah I’m think my idea might not be viabie at all :smiley:

I’d not pay £250 quid for an aerial photo of my gaff… not sure anyone else would either?

Plus, what if the client is 250 miles away?

Bit of a non-starter…

My (lack of) video editing skills rule out any commercial cinematography :roll_eyes:

I think I’ll go back to the drawing board and leave this to the pros like yourself :+1:

Well, you charge 50p per mile for travel costs and also accommodation etc.
You might not pay £250 for a photo of your house, I wouldn’t pay for a photo of mine, but we aren’t necessarily the target. 15 photos edited for the sale of a large private property, for example, suddenly starts to make that £250 look quite cheap.

And if you’re supplying footage to production companies etc, they’re normally just hiring you as an aerial camera operator and want the raw, unedited files straight from your SSD/SD. However in order to get that work you need to have a decent demo showreel which youll either have to edit yourself or pay someone to edit for you.

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I was on the cusp of qualifying with my PfCO, having done the ground school theory, the exam, completed my Ops Manual (not an easy task), but, having considered all of my options I decided not to further the course by doing the flight test.

Why did I do this? Simply the initial cost and recurring annual costs. The course alone was £1300, the insurance for the flight test £60, the cost of the initial CAA application (£200 ish) and subsequent annual permission renewal costs (£150 ish), the cost of the public liability insurance renewed annually (compulsory, as with possessing the PfCO, to do paid work with a drone) cost dependent on your kit and level of cover re public liability and most companies get you to state that your kit will only be used for commercial purposes - so no recreational use!!

As Blacksails stated “as there are now a lot of operators and the prices have been driven down considerably since”. So the prospect of covering my initial and recurring costs (and I’ve not covered maintenance, servicing and replacing your high use kit) meant going full time, trying to beat the established competition, constructing business plans, financial management, taxation, etc., etc, resulted in my change of mind.

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Interesting thread guys, thanks for your input and insight!

I’d toyed with the idea of this being a great career and it’d get me out of the confines of an office environment but the more I hear real world examples such as these, the more I’m convinced there’s no money in it…

That said, I work in agriculture and UAV imagery is currently a hot topic. The only problem there is a normal drone camera is of no use or interest, agriculture needs a multi-spectral sensor capable of processing NDVI and these sensors weigh in at the best part of three grand, just for the sensor :open_mouth:

My job as electrical design engineer would bring me periodic opportunity. Far cheaper to survey with a drone than use camera and expensive access equipment. I have people interested already, but can’t sell the pics.

I need a course near Manchester and on a weekend. Most courses are a trek away so would require a hotel stay. If I take week days off, I then have to factor in 3 days loss of earnings as well. This makes the whole cost probably somewhere in excess of £2k

Amen to that my brother!

Let me know if you find one, I could probably be tempted to come and join you :+1:

Will do… Got my fingers crossed. I’ve no idea why quads, PfCO and Manchester don’t seem to happen

Just been to our local Asda and saw a drone flying over the car park. Turns out it’s a commercial operation called RUAS conducting a survey on the car park use.
Looking on their web site they offer training courses. I’m not interested myself but someone else here might be.

Why is it here in the UK we have to pay so much for PfCO yet in USA they pay around $200 for their part 107 certificate. I was listening to the Drone Trainer podcast and someone on there bought a drone and got $175 MasterCard voucher towards his part 107 !

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Good question mate!

We’re doing something about that though :smiley: