What Does it Mean to be a Licensed Drone Operator?
If you are looking at hiring a drone operator for any commercial reason, then you will see that drone operators need to be certified (often incorrectly referred to as licensed) by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
This is the legal requirement in the UK currently to operate commercial and it’s vital that anyone that you hire to carry out aerial photography and video work on your behalf meets these criteria.
Basically the Civil Aviation Authority grants each operator a Permission for Commercial Operations – PfCO – which used to be called Permission for Aerial Work – PfAW a couple of years ago and will again change during 2021 to General Visual Line of Sight Certificate – GVC. You may well see both terms used on a drone operator’s website.
This means that the operator has to show and understanding of aviation law and safety procedures and complete a practical assessment to demonstrate their competency in flying their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV. They also have to submit a comprehensive Operations Manual which must be renewed, updated, and resubmitted on a yearly basis for certification by the CAA. It’s a lengthy process to gain the CAA approval and it should be – after all, drones are capable to damage to people, other aerial vehicles, and property if they improperly deployed by unqualified or reckless pilots. The CAA will conduct random audits of Drone Operator commercial businesses to ensure that full compliance is met, which involves a full review of all the drone activity conducted by the operator.
So when you see that your drone operator is has a PfCO or GVC, you can be sure that they have worked hard to obtain this qualification and will stick to the highest standards in order to retain it.
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