Becoming a UAV pilot (part 1)

January 3, 2015

 

UAV's, Drones, RPAS, SUA's, SUSA's...any more terminology to confuse you. Certainly a hot topic at the moment. If they are not falling out of the sky onto skiers or being flown innappropriately close to proper aircraft, they are certainly in the news a lot. This is a business with low start up costs, potential high rewards but errors can be costly. You need to take it seriously.

 

My path to PFAW (CAA Permit for Aerial Work) was easier than most due to having a UK ATPL (Airline Transport Pilots Licence), this means that the ground school phase of the PFAW process can be by-passed. If you aren't lucky enough to have this (or other type of aviation licence PPL, CPL etc) type of licence then you will need to contact one of the many providers of the ground school course (Sky-Futures, Whisper-Cam, UAV-Air, all worth a look). 

 

Once you have your certifcate then its down to the hard work of getting an ops manual together. The CAA have a handy template within CAP722. Many of the providers will give you support with this task, the hardest job is learning to write is the strange third person terminology so natural in most aviation publications. Just read CAP722 for a while, not only will this become your bible for UAV ops, but it will also give you a good grounding in the way the authority talks!! You don't have to follow the CAP 722 template, it acceptable to have a different layout (AMC - acceptable means of compliance), your ground school provider may recommend this route.

 

The ops manual could take 2 weeks or 2 months, the process itself will help you understand what you are getting into. Are you sure that you really need the PFAW? Maybe just keep to hobby flying.... Honestly, stick at it, it will be worth it. If you can get someone to review it for you, then it made save you a lot of trouble come final submission. The process will bring you a lot closer to your procedures, your UAV, your business and the authority (CAA).

 

Next up - beyond the ops manual...

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