To PfCO, or not to PfCO - that is the question!

Like a few others here, I’m PfCO qualified. But lately I am starting to question whether it’s worth renewing next year.

The whole drone thing in the media gets mixed reports. It seems that some of the more lurid papers can’t wait until a drone manages to bring down a massive Boeing (despite that being incredibly unlikely). And the whole legality thing (drone code etc) is largely ignored by most folk, if you look at the YouTube channels. The Mavic software updates are getting more and more intelligent at geofencing. So I’m wondering if there’s actually any point in renewing (for £130 each year).

Seems to me the only good part of being qualified is in reassuring new clients that I’m vaguely capable of flying!
What do you guys think?

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Do you need the PfCO for your line of work Dave?

I mean, if you didn’t have the PfCO would you end up being out of pocket because you’d have to turn down jobs?

Do any of your insurances policies require PfCO as part of a Public Liability policy or similar?

While £130 may be a fair saving, if ever you did need to redo all the training etc, it’s a safe bet you’d have to fork out nearer to £1,300 - unless you can renew very easily if it lapses?

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My PfCO expires in January and I won’t be renewing as I simply wasn’t getting enough work to justify keepin the Inspire 2 and paying for the insurance (was only doing it part time anyway).

So i’m Now flying a Mavic just for fun and loving it.

The question is probably no much aerial work ar you doing and does it pay at the very least cover your costs, with the potential of make more money?

You won’t need any retraining to renew even after a gap, just the normal fees and insurance, so they is no harm in taking a break (as I am) unless you see yourself being paid to e in the air in the near future.

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Good to know, thanks @Jcborden :+1:

@PsychoTeapot perhaps let it lapse and then renew (in a hurry?) if needed at a later date?

Morning all.

Do I need a PfCO if I want to sell photographs taken from my UAV?

If so why does a person with a normal camera not have similar restrictions imposed on them?

Is there a grey area where they are classed as ‘Art’ and therefore exempt?

Help :thinking:

I’ve moved your post over to a pre-existing thread on the topic that probably answers your questions.

In short - PfCO isn’t a “photographic” thing … it’s a “flying commercially” thing … and could be for surveying, and many other things.


A normal camera isn’t a couple of hundred feet in the air with the potential to fall out of it or hit something else. It’s not about the photo it’s about the safe operation of your UAV.

If you start a flight with the intention to make money then it’s commercial.

Apologies for the short reply, phone battery about to die :grin:

OK. But you can fly it as a hobbyist and take photos without the need for a PfCO.

I get the safety aspect if you’re using your UAV for inspecting structures and using it for photographing residential properties for sale etc. These would breach the drone code.

So if I take pictures respecting the drone code ie safely then surely I can sell them as its not about the photo?


If the flight is being undertaken with a view to creating an income - it is a commercial flight. Simple. And that requires PfCO.

ANY flight that is commercial for ANY reason … a roofer surveying a roof, etc, is commercial - and therefore requires PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations)

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I understand the law. I am just questioning the difference and restrictions posed on some one flying a UAV to a normal photographer taking the same or similar shot from say a cherry picker or from scaffolding?

But it is the law that is key, and what this is all about, and what differentiates those.
Simply because one flies and the others don’t.
One comes under aviation legislation/law - and the other’s do not.

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I totally understand the law.

I was questioning the restrictions imposed. Ie the same job in two different ways one restricts and the other does not.

It’s a commercial operation in the air, so governed by the CAA. The photo or other purpose is irrelevant, it’s the commercial nature.


Have a friend who let his PFCO lapse and he’s going through TEDIOUS (his words) paperwork to get it back at the moment.

I have taken mine so I can get the insurance I require for the work I’m doing even thought the majority of the flying is indoors.

I guess you’re the only one who know if it’s worth renewing for you - if you’re going to do any commercial work then yes, if not no.

Im about to take my PfCO next month and looking foreward to it, mainly because Im interested in starting a business using the drone in various locations in the UK and Europe. As you know you need to keep it up to date if involved with a business. If i was just using the drone as a hobbiest then i would think twice about renewing it.

Hi @barryb
Just done my PfCO with Fly Icarus in Leeds.
2 long days theory, passed my theory exam and completed night permissions online. Just flight assessment and Ops manual to go.
Went with Fly Icarus as they had a cracking deal on for Leeds site.
£749 for everything to attain a PfCO with night permission.
Also managed to bag an extra £50 off for watching one of Fly Icarus webinars. So £699 actually.

Very, very impressed with them. Thoroughly enjoyed the course and content.
I’ve made a lot of enquiries before taking the plunge, some companies never even replied to my enquiries. Imagine what they would be like after they have taken your money :moneybag:

Drop me a pm if you need any further info.

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Hi Micky
Thanks for the info, sounds like a really good deal, jnfortunatlly ive booked with Coptrz in Leeds for June 10th got £300 knocked off but the vat and safety kit i ordered took it back ovef £1000.
I havent had a drone for long only for the past 6 weeks but trying to cram as much flying practice in as i can.
I enjoy it as a hobby, but Im looking at starting a small drone business off the likes of roof and building surveys, ariel photography and video.
Ive got a Mavic Pro at the moment but looking to upgrade to thd Mavic Pro 2 plus new controller.
The phone I use at the momdng is a Samsung 7 edge, but whenever I vonnect it wont rotate around the right way it take a good 5 for the picture to turn thd right way round…its a pain.

Good luck with it Barry. Am sure you will enjoy it, good mix on our course.
I can def recommend the Mavic 2 a really good piece of kit.
I had a look at the smart controller when out flying with @Raider the other week, the screen is really bright, perfect for those bright days, when we get them.
Always happy to meet up for a fly round, just pm me


Practice your figure 8s and circles


Cheers Lee.
Will do and thanks for all your advice previously.