Anyone done PfCO?

Hi Grey Arrows,

Has anyone done their PfCO? Looking for recommendations on who/where to do it. Currently on the shortlist are UpLift Drone Training and the ICARUS course. They both take place at locations not too far from me and seem to have good reviews.

Appreciate any feedback from anyone who has completed their PfCO or previously PfAW.


Hi Alex,

We’ve got a few: PfCO Verified badge on Grey Arrows Drone Club UK

I’m sure @Blacksails @PsychoTeapot @Jcborden will answer any questions you may have.

I’m probably doing mine at the end of Jan, with a firm in York funnily enough :slight_smile:

Not sure of the name though, a few of us at work are doing it (work are organising it all). At this stage, all I know is it’s a five-day course so I’m not quite sure what’s involved as I thought most courses were only three days. I’ll find out the name of the firm if you like? Not back at work till 2nd Jan now though :wink:

{cue some seriously relaxing time for the next two weeks!}

I’ll be sure to document the training here, as others may be interested :+1:

Nice one PingSpike, yes would be great to hear how you get on. Keep us posted!

Hi Alex, I’m also Alex!

I did mine back in late 2011 - early 2012 with EuroUSC. Euro weren’t the best and I’m guessing the whole process has developed a bit by now, but they were the only NQE available back then. If ta similar to mine (so long ago now…) you’ll learn about aviation map reading, weather, posting NOTAMS, speaking with ATC, different types of airspace, basic principles of flight, physical and legal limitations etc.

If you listen and take notes you really shouldn’t have an issue passing. When the flight test comes, you are tested for competence and how closely you stick to the modes of operation stated in your Operations Manual. A lot of people worry about having to fly in ATTI mode, but obviously, if your machine doesn’t have that (like the mavic) then they won’t test you on it.

The hardest part is writing your OPs manual. They will probably provide you with a template but I wrote mine from scratch. The CAA must be seeing hundreds of almost identical OPs Manuals now, due to all of the templates handed out. I just have the feeling that if you make the effort to write from scratch and make it a bit different they may be a bit more inclined to grant things like night permissions when asked for, rather than if you just submit another clone. This is, however, based on absolutely nothing, as I have only ever submitted and updated mine, obviously. It’s just my musings on the idea.

Hope this helps some…


Lol, you’re probably right :smiley:

Great info Alex, thanks for sharing!

Thanks for the reply Alex, good info!

I did my course in October 2016 in Cambridgeshire so can’t help with the NQE side of things. However, the course I did was two days theory with the theory test at the end of the second day. It is mostly common sense with probably the hardest part being the aeronautical map reading, but the NQE should take you through that in detail to ensure you understand them. Once you get the hang of it, they are pretty straight forward.

One thing I would push on if doing the course again is things like the legalities of the 50m bubble, can you take off/land from public land, e.g. footpaths (technically you need landowners permission for take off and landing), exactly what constitutes congested areas and those sorts of things. Its good to get all that clear in your own mind. Also when and when not to submit NOTAMs etc.

Hopefully, a good NQE will cover all of this, but if you find gaps, don’t be afraid to ask - make sure you get your moneys worth :slight_smile:

As for the practical test, as has been mentioned, this is about making sure you fly according to your approved OPS manual. Know your procedures, especially emergency ones and try to relax. For me it felt like my driving test (that took me back a few years), but they aren’t there to catch you out, simply to make sure you follow what you have said you are going to do, don’t forget it is all based around safety, ensuring the safety of those that might be around you, safety to other air users and yourself.

As for the OPS manuals, there is a CAA template, but some NQE’s will actually write the OPS manual for you based on your craft and what you are going to do. Again these will be heavily templated, but will get you going much more quickly if that is what you are after.

Don’t forget for the flight test you will need insurance cover.

Hope that helps.

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