Operations Manual for Recreational Users

While this is currently only a requirement for commercial certification, I think it would be good for us amateurs to have an equivalent manual as evidence of our responsible approach to our pass time and for our own personal development. Perhaps we could peer review them together here to provide feedback on quality and content and learn best practice from each other, and help newbees? I have already shared my check list but adding sections for details and specs of UAVs, links to instruction manuals and CAA documents - drone code, ANO extract etc. Intended usage (just for fun, amateur photographer etc), list of apps used (DJI GO 4 version 4.2.8) and user details, link to grey arrows. airdata logs and any other clubs/forums etc. Operating procedures: before you fly, pre-flight checks, in-flight procedures (take-off, flight, landing), post-flight checks and emergency procedures. What you would do in an emergency. Insurance details, written permissions to fly if you have them etc. How to site survey and risk assess each flight, maintenance history etc.

Legislation may force this on us some time, it sounds like general good practice (my motivation) , and it will help you prep if you have aspirations for commercial certification in the future.

Purely voluntary … Thoughts?


Sounds excellent @Davo_101
I am a newbee and it would certainly help me and others. Was thinking about doing the CAA PfCo at some point, just so I fully understand more. Its a lot of money If its only recreational and not commercial.
My reason for joining this forum/club is because of the knowledge and support which has already been shown.
Thanks all

well if you insist could do with one before I do my training how spooky is this post

Not sure I agree with this approach. I’m all for competence, competence is everything to ensure any activity is done safely but having a operations manual doesn’t ensure competence, at least it doesn’t for me. I fear that it could easily become a shield to hide incompetence.

We do have commercial drone training and certification in the UK but the price is a huge barrier for amateurs. Why not make the education and training more financially accessible so that we educate a wider range of drone pilots? That way we create a greater level of competence across all drone pilots.

I’ll now hunker down while you guys shoot me down :thinking:

While I agree an operations manual does not ensure/prove competence (only a test and a license IMHO can do that), it would provide me with a degree of self-confidence that I have done the necessary research to compile and consolidate a relatively comprehensive personal reference that enables me to establish a consistent operating procedure that helps minimize and mitigate potential risk. I want to be as professional as I can be in my overall approach to learning and develop my understanding, skills and knowledge base at the same time. I appreciate that this is probably something for the minority, if you can’t be bothered to read a manual you are unlikely to want to create one.

@TimD I am not sure how this could become a shield for incompetence, but I am interested to understand how you think creating an operations manual could have any negative effect.

I agree the cost of commercial training and licensing is a barrier to many. I am fortunate that it is not the case for me - I just don’t have the time or requirement to make money from it to make that level of commitment right now. If it were mandatory, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it tomorrow to continue flying.

My concern is that having a manual does not ensure that the pilot knows what they are doing or how to respond to a given set of circumstances developing in front of them. I have seen this with Construction Phase Plans where a contractor compiles a huge “impressive” document that their staff don’t read or understand - obviously this dos not apply to all but it happens, a lot.

I’m not saying a manual doesn’t have its place, it just needs to be done properly and applied by competent people.

Does that make sense?

By all accounts it takes a lot of time to create theses Ops Manuals … So why spend time you don’t have producing something you don’t need?

IMHO I think that both @TimD and @Davo_101 make good points.

The cost of CAA certification is currently prohibitive for most (i.e. the cost of training [£1500], compulsory insurance [£600+ pa], CAA PfCO annual renewal [£140], plus start up equipment [cones, signs, tape, vests, etc.]) unless you have a good business plan in place and can generate sufficient income to cover such expense. In the light of the proposed Govt. legislation into drone flying, a diluted CAA PfRA (Permission for Recreational Activity) might well be a viable alternative if the cost was, say 50% of the PfCO course cost. No compulsory high cost public liability insurance (add such as an extra on travel insurance, say), no CAA renewal cost). So, yes @TimD, I’m with you on that one.

No, an Ops Manual alone does not demonstrate competence but producing your own does, believe me, give you self-confidence in understanding how your craft operates, how to operate it safely, and actions to be taken if something goes wrong (rather than running round in circles screaming like a big Jessie!). Do that with a short theory course (airspace, meteorology, etc) and a simple flight test and yes, you have demonstrated a significant degree of competence.

Just my two penneth.

For my own reference and personal development only. I agree it will take a lot of time to create but I don’t expect to do it in one go. It would be a living document to be added to as my knowledge expands, and to me worth the investment of my spare time when I am unable to fly. Trying for a commercial qualification would need much more of my available resources at the moment than I have to give. If I do decide to take that step I hope this will have been beneficial and maybe reduce the duration at that time.

I am not 100% convinced myself yet, and I welcome appreciate your counter arguments :slight_smile:

So - a course that is the price of a new MP?
How many people would get their driving license if that cost as much as the smallest new car?
Totally disproportionate … IMO

TBH … I think that same time could better prepare a pilot if spent actually flying and learning.

… although that won’t work on most UK days with typical weather. On those days there are still more exciting things I’d rather be doing.

At the moment, I find myself mostly thinking about flying, reading, watching, researching, learning and planning when I can’t fly and flying whenever I get the chance, so this would merely be an extension of this obsession. I admit I am a bit of a documentation freak and a lot of my work is documenting complex business process models, so this kind of thing is my bread and butter.

I’d recommend taking a holiday! LOL! :wink:

My Asperger’s/OCD has me wasting so much time doing things I really know are totally unnecessary … “But I WANT IT THUS … TO THE mm …” etc.
Even more frustrating when I know as I’m doing something that is just fundamentally daft!


insurance have the right idea.

They have recreational users sit an online course before cover is valid. 15 min test for basic and 1hr for advanced. Free with cover.

Think it’s a great idea.

If I could sit the test for say £30 without the cover I probably would.

Something like this for the incoming mandatory tests would be perfectly adequate.


To ensure members have a suitable understanding of drone safety, guidelines and legislation Country Cover Club have teamed up with training experts The Aerial Academy to provide free online Drone Safety certificates.

We require all members to complete the relevant C³ Basic Drone Safety Certificate before the Drone Extension insurance benefits become valid. Members choosing the PL & PA only option will need to complete the C³ Basic Drone Safety test. Members opting to include Accidental Damage, Loss & Theft cover will need to complete the C³ Advanced Recreational Drone Safety test. A link to relevant test will be included in your welcome email; the Basic test takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, members may need to allow up to an hour to complete the Advanced Recreational test.

Where a Member has a prior qualification, provided by a CAA recognised NQE and demonstrating equal or greater subject knowledge (e.g. PfCO), proof of qualification must be received and accepted in writing by the C³ administration team to validate insurance benefits.

That makes sense for insurance.
I wonder how they view modded firmware?

Yes - I like this too … maybe Grey Arrows can negotiate a group buy deal with The Aerial Academy for the Advanced Recreational Drone Safety test, or is this exclusive to CCC? I already have FPVUK liability cover and have purchased DJI Care, so I don’t need additional insurance but would like the certificate.

Not sure if its an exclusive but might be worth asking.

Price would have to be right though and is it really worth it? We don’t know what the new drone regulations are going to ask of us.

Could end up paying twice.

Drone code was a great idea. Keep it simple and everyone knows the rules. If your following drone code your complying with the basic fundamental points of ANO.

Complicating things will not do anyone any good.

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We (the club) are in the process of creating a project that will pool all the tips you (the members) may have about better, responsible flying to produce a resource that we hope will be of benefit to all levels of drone pilots from beginner to experienced. Stay tuned for more details but, in the meantime, if you any sage words of advice we’d love to hear them.