Can you have a PfCO *and* be a hobbyist?


I should have added ,he has a professional website, where his photos are available for sale, and are promoted further by social media links.


as I said …


Just asking, thanks for the info.


The differentiator is for whom the photos and videos are for. If they’re for you and then someone wants to use them and pay you for them , then no PfCO required and there should be nothing stopping you from selling them.
If however , someone engages you to capture photos and videos for them, then PfCO required.


That is absolutely true … but if someone manages to sell them too often, you would struggle to claim that subsequent flights don’t have the potential in mind … then PfCO.
But how you judge the cross-over is unknown territory.


The way I see it I think this is a question that will run and run, and @chrisjohnbaker Chris’s example is a good example why. The CAA is using existing legislative practice that they use for other pilots - where the main reason for flying is to not to take photographs / video to sell.

I believe the primary reason the CAA requires pilots to have a commercial license to fly aircraft for the protection of passengers, the same way you need a special license to carry paying passengers in road vehicle. However, if I place a camera on the bonnet of ‘my car’ to take photos to sell the Dept of Transport don’t require me to have a commercial license

As the CAA is responsible for aircraft in the skies, so naturally they go to their comfort zone, and I totally appreciate why.

Ultimately it’s going to be a legal case where the CAA prosecute a non-PfCO drone pilot for selling photographs they have taken before this is really challenged.

However, I don’t want to be the test case!!!


The CAA requires pilots to have a commercial license to fly commercially … if you fly freight commercially you need one, etc.

ThisOneWillRunAndRun. :wink:


There are some odd exemptions, actually (unless this has changed since I was current).

Glider club tug pilots. Just a rating on the PPL.
Parachuting club jump-plane pilots … used to need a glider tug pilot rating (I had one for this in 70s).

… providing the pilot wasn’t being paid.


I think it’s quite obvious that drone technology has progressed, and is progressing, quite rapidly. The law is somewhat meticulous. And slow (bureaucracy). Does anyone else here feel that the CAA and the government is playing catch up? Just trying to see a bigger picture.


There surely must have been a test case by now. I bet there are hoards of Estate Agents with “hobby” drones who don’t have PfCO.


There’s a good chance … but for them to be prosecuted someone needs to report them. For someone to report them someone needs to know the laws around it … and since a large swathe of drone pilots are uncertain about the laws, there probably aren’t that many out there that would report them.

Same for all sorts of trades that could be using drones in a way that requires PfCO - roofers, farmers, etc.


Coming in at a tangent and thinking about safety and confidence.

Surely the whole pupose of a licence is to make things safer for the pating public.

A PPL pilot who cannot charge fees, cannot run a buissiness to carry strangers and put them at risk. The CPL (commercial) pilot on the other hand has completed much more training and is tested to a higher level. Paying passangers need to have confidence that the person whome they do not know, up front, is qualified to look after their needs.

In the same way that I can drive a minibus full of friends, but to carry fare paying passengers I must hold the correct license.

A PfCO shows customers that you are capable of operating a drone safely and in accordance with the law.

Not saying that a non qualified person is unsafe, but they could be. Of course some qualified people will flaunt the rules too, but the customer has a formal body (the CAA) to complain to if the need arises.

I hope to do my PfCO in due course. Probaly with UAV8 as I know the people (through work) that run the company.


There are, I’ve met a few, but whose checking?


LOL I have done more then one roof inspection…:rofl::rofl::joy:


Yep the phones ringing of the hook…



What’s different here Chann is that yiundont need to have a license to fly a drone, as you do with the other two mentioned, and yiundont carry a passengers!

I don’t think CAA are worried at all about the issues of taking photographs and selling them really. The main issue at the top of their agenda , and seen to be doing is trying to stop drones coming anywhere near other aircraft, or other sensitive locations.


Yss absolutely agree Brian.

Alas by making the training long and expensive, with annual fees, it will deter many from wanting to look at the rules in any depth.

I do like the simplistic approach thet they have taken with drone safe and FRZs.


I agree Chann


Interesting read guys
One of the advantages of having a PfCO is the lateral separation distance in congested areas reduced from 150m to 50m (30m for take off) my question is… If you have a pfco can you just use that advantage on a commercial job or whenever you like?


I’d be carefull with that idea. If you’re flying as a hobbyist , I’d say you would/should still keep the 50m distance. Only 30m when you fly professionally .