Many countries around the world require individuals who operate drones to have a current qualification that shows they have illustrated competency in maneuvering their unmanned aerial vehicle.
England has specific rules that must be followed for drone pilots to receive legally recognized qualification.
The Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom acts in a similar fashion as the Federal Aviation Authority does in the United States (check out this excellent summary of US safety laws here: http://bestdroneforthejob.com/safety/)
They make the legally-enforceable laws when it comes to general UAV usage. This article will cover everything it takes for British pilot to learn and receive a proper license in his home country.
Just like it’s a bad idea for a person to drive a car on a highway if they have never operated an automobile before, the same is true for UAVs.
In order to become a competent driver, new learners need to know the laws, practice at a safe pace and have some instruction from someone with experience.
Learning to fly a drone is no different. It’s best for new pilots to enroll in a drone operator training program that specializes in the particular drone that they plan to be flying.
A proper training course should cover pre-launching, motor controls, maneuvering, maintenance, flights laws, restrictions, and licensing preparations.
Such a course should also include a final exam with flight test, certification for those who pass, and a log book detailing the hours the student put into training.
QuestUAV is one of the most trusted names in drone operator training. They are not strictly confined to England, either.
They are willing to tailor courses to pilots hoping to get training in other countries as well. They claim to cover every aspect of piloting drones from start to finish.
After a student has signed up for a training course, it’s best that he begin researching testing facilities.
They’ll want to make sure that the testing center is following regulations put in place by a government flight authority if there is one. In the United Kingdom, this would be the Civil Aviation Authority.
They need to know if the testing center offers study materials that outline what the student will be tested on. Future pilots will also need to check that the certification they’ll receive after passing the test is recognized by the CAA.
Some testing centers can offer their students a globally-honored qualification certificate. They may also be able to approve the students’ drone of choice for immediate flying power for those whose countries have a drone inspection mandate. This is not a requirement at this time in the UK.
This is a written portion seen on every exam. The theory assessment should challenge students to illustrate their knowledge on a variety of subjects.
Some of the most common subjects on tests pertain to flight safety, flying regulations, controls, pre-launch planning, meteorology, map interpretation and navigation, communications, and in-flight procedures.
Hopefully, the test site can provide study tools needed to help students master the topics covered on the test. Many online sites offer pertinent information often found on most exams and some sites even offer practice quizzes and tests.
Typically students will have to pass the written part of the test before moving on to the operational assessment.
Some test centers may let students who pass the theory assessment take their flight exam that day; others may have to come back a few days to weeks later after scheduling an appointment.
Some exam centers have students submit an operations manual. This document will be written by the student himself detailing how they tend to conduct themselves while owning and operating their drone.
Students will need to describe how they plan to store their drone, maintain their drone, do pre-flight preparations, and follow the rules mandated by the CAA.
They also need to include how they will react in the case of emergency and how the plan to reimburse anyone whose property might be damaged if a drone crash occurs.
After this document is reviewed and approved, the student will need to be able to demonstrate his competency in flying the drone. He must then show that he has a literal mastery of the concepts covered on the written exam.
In the United Kingdom, getting the UAV inspected and approved for airworthiness is not required by the CAA in most cases.
Other countries may have this assessment as a legal requirement to meet before ever launching the drone. QuestUAV can provide the purchasers of their UAV products an Airworthiness Certificate upon request.
Most drone man manufacturers can offer their customers similar documentation, but not all do. This is something to look into before buying a drone.
After Passing the Exam
Following completion of all assessments needed to pass the exam, students may apply to the CAA for an “Operational Permit.”
At the time of submission, students will need to enclose the license given to them at the testing facility and their insurance information. Usually, the permit isn’t given out for free and applicants must pay a processing fee.
The operational permit can take up to two months to be issued and will be good for one year from that date. Permit holders are often asked to record their flight hours in a log book and present them to their issue for review.
Those who don’t appear to be practicing may have their permit revoked since their skills are not being maintained.Just like how US drivers have to have their cars inspected annually, some countries may have UAV owners complete an inspection of their aircraft each year.
This is not currently a law in England, but drone maintenance is important everywhere they are operated.This article mainly covered UAV practices in the United Kingdom and Europe. Since drones are relatively new to the US, UAV purchasers can expect similar legislation to take effect in the near future.
Anyone who owns an unmanned aerial vehicle should consider getting reputable drone operator training before flying their aircraft.