I often get asked now about the process you need to go through to become qualified and approved to fly an unmanned aircraft system in UK airspace. As a result, I have tried to summarise things below from our own experience setting out. Some people wonder why I’m making it easy for people to set up as I am effectively giving our competitors a leg-up. Well, a few reasons really. At this point in time, public awareness of the potential positive uses of “drones” is still fairly low. As a result there is still room for more players in the market. At some point that won’t be the case! Also, I have become increasingly interested in the training and equipment side so it seems only right to make sure people are getting the right information.
FINAL EDIT OF THIS BLOG POST:
We have now teamed up with Whispercam to supply the UAPQ-s drone pilot qualification. The information below is very out of date now so please see the links just below here for a much more up to date summary:
The changing face of UK drone pilot qualifications
UK drone training, equipment and qualifications
This is correct as far as I am aware as at 21/02/2013. If you spot any errors, let me know!
Edit 17/8/2013: There is now a new qualification called the RPQ-s (Remote Pilot Qualification – small) run by Resource UAS, that is being accepted by the CAA as proof of pilot competence. I will blog on it soon and try to highlight the key differences between the two qualifications. In the meantime, here is a link to more information: Resource UAS RPQ-small
The qualification process is managed by EuroUSC and Resource UAS on behalf of the CAA.
Reading before you start, as a minimum:
CAA CAP 722 section 3: http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/cap722.pdf
CAA CAP 393 (only the articles referred to in CAP 722 – don’t panic!!): http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP393.pdf
Resource UAS RPQ-s pages: http://www.resource-uas.co.uk/RPASTraining/RPQstraining.aspx
EuroUSC BNUC-S pages: http://www.eurousc.com/pilot-qualification-%28bnuc-std%29.html
The basic sequence would be as follows, assuming you have sourced your equipment and don’t require additional flight training:
Register for BNUC-S or RPQ-s theory ground school
Carry out ground school and exam (2/3 days)
Register for flight exam
Write operations manual
With the BNUC-s, you are assessed against your Operations Manual. With the RPQ-s it isn’t necessary to complete your Ops Manual before the flight test as you are assessed against the flight reference cards you produce.
Register for CAA permission for aerial work using details from EuroUSC or Resource UAS (I believe they can organise this for you but I was in a hurry!) (http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?CATID=1995)
Receive permission for aerial work for each aircraft you wish to use.
Start finding customers and earning money! (…whilst flying strictly, professionally and competently under your permissions for aerial work, remembering that if something goes wrong it is YOUR responsibility so you cannot allow yourself to be pressured by customers to fly beyond your permissions. They will try to get you to do it… just a little bit closer, a little bit higher a little bit faster; it is your responsibility to yourself, the customer and the rest of us who wish to continue with our businesses to make sure you do not bow to peer pressure…)
Startup Costs can be found here, I did have them on the page but due to recent changes it is best if you check the links:
(http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/282GA.pdf —– Section 3.9.2)
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via the HexCam website. I will keep adding to this as I go along. We are now also offering initial multirotor flight training.
If you need aerial photography equipment, check out the Versadrones website.
Elliott – HexCam
8 thoughts on “BNUC-S, RPQ-s and registration for a CAA permission for aerial work”
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So, what is the difference between the licences? I’m looking for something offering the most thorough training possible.
That is a blog for another day! If you’d like to discuss it further please email me via http://www.hexcam.co.uk
If you already have a PPL, do you need to take the theory exams or can you just skip to the flight test bit?
You would have to check with Resource UAS or EuroUSC. I believe you still have to do the theory.
Thanks for starting to clear up this process – good post and useful links. Just a couple of questions. 1) Is it illegal to buy and fly a drone (for pleasure not money) prior to obtaining qualification – assuming that you are aware and take cognisance of the relative CAA articles. 2) Are there any past papers or study guides for the theory exam?
Hi Craig. Apologies for the delay, I missed this post!
I haven’t found any past papers but people are generally quite helpful on the forums. The topics in the exam are summarised in CAP 722 and are largely based around UK airspace, operational safety etc.
It isn’t illegal to operate non-commercially for pleasure or training purposes before you are qualified. I would suggest you find a largish area of land, preferably somewhere away from the public like farmland or your own land if there is space. Just check local airspace! 🙂 Please feel free to contact us via http://www.hexcam.co.uk if you have any questions.
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