pilot competence with PfCO support course

The dronetraining.co.uk Pilot Competence Course with PfCO Support has been developed and improved over the last four years to go beyond the basic expectations that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have of us as a National Qualified Entity (NQE).

Our aim is always to do the best we can to not just support your through to the point where you receive your PfCO from the CAA, but to provide additional support throughout your first year of operations and to renewal. If you are happy then you can receive ongoing support beyond that through a School of Drones membership.


The Theoretical Competence Course forms the first step towards your CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO).

The PfCO is held by a legal entity such as a limited company or an individual sole trader. Anybody operating under the PfCO must prove they are competent in the theoretical and practical aspects required by the CAA.

The Theoretical Competence Course covers all unmanned aircraft from 0-20Kg, regardless of aircraft type, so it covers both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The other aspect of your application is the Operations Manual. As we work through the theory course we will begin to relate the course content to the Operations Manual and therefore its practical application.

The Operational Assessment fulfils the CAA requirements with regard to practical competence. The practical competence is categorised by maximum take-off mass and aircraft type. The Operational Assessment is designed to test both your flying skills and the practical application of the knowledge and operational processes covered in the Theoretical Competence Course. Drone Training Ltd provides £1M public liability insurance for your Operational Assessment. We are not able to provide insurance for your equipment.

Once you have completed all elements we will then assist you with your application to the CAA. The CAA can take up to 28 WORKING days to process your application and issue your PfCO.

As regulations in this young industry are still evolving, it is important that you keep yourself up-to-date with any changes and we assist you with that mainly through the School of Drones.

If you have not yet sourced a drone, we can advise on drones as well as supplying most DJI drones. We can offer discounts when purchasing a drone with training. Please contact us for more details.

theoretical competence course

The Theoretical Competence Course is a two-day course. The core content is specified by the CAA and aims to cover the aspects of airmanship that are most important when operating drones in UK airspace. As all our instructors are, or have been, commercial operators we are able to tailor the course to highlight the factors that are most important from an operational or safey perspective. We try to build in case studies and examples that are relevant to each group of candidates.

You will complete 8 short module tests over the two days. We will also introduce you to the Operations Manual and ensure you have a full understanding of how it is written, why it is necessary and how to use it during operations.

two day course

The Theoretical Competence Course takes place across 2 days and covers the following modules:


  • Aircraft Knowledge
  • Airmanship and Aviation Safety
  • UAS Airspace Operating
  • Principles
  • Air Law
  • Meteorology
  • Navigation and Charts
  • Human Factors
  • Operating Procedures


pass mark

There are two closed-book exams after each pair of modules. These are multiple choice and are designed to reinforce the learning from the course.

The pass mark for each exam is 75%.

Please remember to bring a smartphone, tablet or laptop that can be connected to WiFi to run the electronic exams.


lunch, refreshments and course materials

A light lunch will be provided on both days of the two day Theoretical Competence Course and refreshments will be available during the morning and afternoon breaks.

All course materials including pens will be provided. There will also be an example Operations Manual for you to reference so there is no need to print one in advance.

dronetraining.co.uk closed facebook group

Once you have successfully passed the Theoretical Competence Course you will receive an invitation to join the closed Facebook group. The delay is to prevent any accidental breaches of the integrity of the exams.

The group is for anyone who has been through a course with dronetraining.co.uk and is moderated by the dronetraining.co.uk team. It is a useful resource for asking a wider group of operators with different levels of experience questions around hardware, regulation and operational issues.

Please see a recent post from Elliott below around the use and purpose of the group.

Don’t use Facebook?

If you do not use Facebook then do not worry as all important regulation updates are posted to the news page. This includes an increasing amount of content exclusively for people who have been through training with us.

As numbers have grown again and I’m starting to lose track of posts a little bit, just a few things from people have nudged me to write this. There is starting to become a real critical mass of very competent people in their own areas on here, but we all have things we don’t know, can improve etc. and we really do want this to be a place for collaboration and personal/business development. I will be populating the School of Drones portal with useful general information, but this is still going to be a good place for all kinds of assistance. Please do remember that there will always be those less experienced than you so please be nice!

1) Can you sell things? Certainly, second-hand sales are fine. Please make sure you describe the item well, state the price and collection details clearly and provide good photographs. We can’t take responsibility for any transactions organised between group members.

2) Can you post your own work? Definitely. All members are welcome to post their own work or even work they find inspiring. Please don’t be offended if moderators delete duplicate posts.

3) Can we invite anyone? No. This group is very deliberately for instructors and current and past candidates of dronetraining.co.uk. At least that way we mostly know people are singing from the same song sheet. There are a good number of open FB groups that people can join.

4) Is Jonathan really scared of cows? Yes, did he mention it?

Elliott Corke

Director, Drone Training Ltd

operational assessment

You can attempt the Operational Assessment once you have successfully completed the Theoretical Competence Course.

When you are ready to undertake your Operational Assessment you will need to book a time with your examiner. Contact details for the examiner will be sent to you following the Theoretical Competence Course.

During the Operational Assessment you will be expected to use and complete the appropriate paperwork as if it was a genuine operation. You will be assessed on your preparation and procedures as well as your flying.

Full details of the Operational Assessment will be given during your Theoretical Competence Course and on School of Drones.

permission for commercial operations

Once you have successfully passed the Operational Assessment you will receive an email with instructions for preparing your documentation to apply to the CAA for a Permission For Commercial Operations (PfCO).

As well as needing to have public liability insurance that meets the EC 785/2004 regulation in place, or a cover note to that effect (see this FAQ on insurance for more information), the SUA (Small Unmanned Aircraft) operator must also submit an Operations Manual to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) during the application procedure. The Operations Manual support in the School of Drones will guide you through this process to make sure that all relevant information is included in the Operations Manual.

The Operations Manual and insurance forms will be checked by the dronetraining.co.uk team who will also setup your online application for you so that all you have to is to check through the application pages and make payment to the CAA for the PFCO application.

The current cost of a PfCO is £253 for first application and £190 for renewals.

School of Drones

...we will be there to support you!

school of drones membership

Undertaking a Pilot Competence Course with dronetraining.co.uk enrols you automatically into a membership with the School of Drones. This lasts for 12 months following your Operational Assessment and provides you access to the latest training resources, email and telephone advice with your operations, and regulation updates. If you have purchased PfCO support, it entitles you to generate an up to date Operations Manual documentation check and preparation of your first PfCO renewal.

You will be invited to the School of Drones Membership following the Operational Assessment.

Your certifications, once attained, are yours and remain valid and recognised by the CAA indefinitely under current rules.