How To Become A Drone Pilot In The UK

how to become a drone pilot in the UK [2024 Update]

Are you considering a career as a drone pilot in the UK, but feeling a bit lost in the process?

It’s understandable – understanding the UK’s drone regulations and training can be tricky. As a full-time professional drone pilot, I’ve been there myself, and I want to help others get started on the right foot.

That’s why I’m sharing my own experience to create a clear and simple guide on how to become a drone pilot.

I’ll cover everything from the financial investment in equipment and certifications to the learning process involved.

I will also share a copy of the drone test you will be sitting To help you get a feel for what is involved.

My goal is to give you the information you need to make informed decisions as you begin your drone piloting journey.

Me checking out my yuneec dji alternative drone 1

Jamies’ Quick Answer | How To Become A Drone Pilot In UK:

Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Drone Pilot in the UK 

This blog post might be a bit lengthy, but I assure you it will be well worth your time.

I’ll delve into all the essential details you need to know, ranging from the various licences available to the equipment you’ll require for your drone piloting journey.

I’ve documented the costs and time requirements for each stage, ensuring you’ll have a clear roadmap to follow.

Upon completing this comprehensive guide, you’ll possess a practical understanding of what it takes to become a successful commercial drone pilot in the UK.

So, go ahead and bookmark this page, returning to it as you progress through each phase of your licensing journey.

flying a drone in uk

Step 1 – Choose Your Level Of UK Drone Licence

If you’re thinking about getting a drone license, it’s important to know that there are two main types of drone licenses available.

The level of license you need depends on the weight of the drone and the level of risk involved in flying it. My main goal was to become a drone pilot that tackles drone survey work in the UK.

To increase your employability as a drone pilot, I suggest obtaining both the GVC and A2 CofC licenses through a combined training course.

Overall, obtaining both the GVC and A2 CofC licences through a combined training course is a worthwhile investment that can significantly enhance your career as a drone pilot.

Having both licences showcases your versatility and ability to handle various types of drones.

This makes you a more valuable candidate in the job market, leading to more business opportunities and contributing to your professional success.

Employers will recognize your knowledge of safety protocols, airspace regulations, and flight restrictions – minimizing the risk of legal issues and ensuring you operate responsibly.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 7

A2 CofC Drone Licence

The A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) is designed for those drone pilots flying smaller drones (under 2kg) in closer proximity to people and buildings.

It’s a good choice for both hobbyists and professionals who want more flexibility in where they can fly.

Without the A2 CofC, you’ll face more restrictions on your flight locations.

The course covers essential topics like safe flight operations, navigating congested airspace, understanding battery safety, and considering environmental factors during flight.

GVC Drone Certification Explained

The General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) is the qualification for more advanced drone pilots. It’s intended for those who’ll be operating larger, more sophisticated drones in higher-risk scenarios.

The GVC is often required for large-scale commercial projects, demonstrating to employers your competency and commitment to safety.

The GVC course involves a deeper dive into topics like air law, advanced navigation, meteorology, and the development of a detailed operations manual.

james leslie drone pilot 1

What Exactly Is The Difference?

The A2 CofC acts as a foundation for drone pilots, particularly those flying smaller, sub-2kg drones.

It allows for more flexibility in terms of where you can fly, permitting operations closer to people and even in built-up areas. The training itself is less intensive, consisting of an online theory course and a multiple-choice exam.

While some practical flight experience is required it can be self-directedmaking it a good option for hobbyists or those looking to do professional drone photography.

The A2 CofC boasts a simpler certification process that doesn’t require a practical flight assessment or an operations manual, and the license itself remains valid for five years.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 2

On the other hand, the GVC caters to experienced, professional drone pilots who work with larger, more powerful drones (up to 25kg).

This advanced qualification is often a prerequisite for securing large-scale commercial contracts.

The GVC training goes deeper.

Covering extensive theory modules covering various aspects like air law, drone operation principles, and meteorology.

Pilots must demonstrate their skills through a practical flight assessment and create a detailed operations manual that gets submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for approval.

Maintaining the GVC involves annual renewals, reflecting the ongoing commitment to safety and proficiency required for these more complex operations.

A2 CofC Vs GVC License Comparison Table

FeatureA2 CofCGVC
PurposeSafe operation of small drones near uninvolved peopleProving remote pilot competency for VLOS operations within the Specific Category
CategoryA2 Sub-Category of OPEN CategorySpecific Category
Type of OperationsCommercial and non-commercialHigher-risk operations
Course ContentFlight control fundamentals, battery safety, environmental factorsFlight control fundamentals, battery safety, environmental factors, Air law, UAS airspace safety, navigation, meteorology
AssessmentMostly theoretical, Self-assessed 25 hour flight timeTheoretical learning, theory exam, practical flight assessment
Suitable DronesMavic 2’s, Parrot ANAFI, Mini 2, Mini 3, Autel Robotics EVO 2 ProM300 RTK, M30 Series, Inspire 2, Phantom 4 RTK, Mavic 3 Series
Weight Restriction0 – 900g Drone Max Takeoff Weight0 – 25kg Drone Max Take-Off Weight
AuthorisationA2 CofC certificationCAA operational authorisation
Level of Difficulty/ComprehensivenessBasic understanding of drone operationsMore comprehensive and practical knowledge
drone pilot skykam 11 11zon

Step 2 – Pick A Drone Training Provider

First and foremost, make sure any training provider you consider is a CAA-approved Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE).

This guarantees they have the official stamp of approval to teach the courses and issue your certifications. Don’t waste time on companies that don’t have this vital accreditation.

Next, dig into the instructor’s background. Do they have experience flying drones, or does their background extend to broader aviation knowledge?

Understanding airspace regulations, meteorology, and similar topics translates to a much richer learning experience.

A great training provider should be transparent about their pass rates – a high success rate indicates they know how to effectively prepare you for those exams.

Consider what kind of support you’ll receive after you complete the course.

Does the training provider offer a community forum, provide updates on changes to regulations, or offer assistance with creating your Operations Manual for the GVC?

These ongoing resources can be incredibly valuable as you navigate your drone piloting career.

Finally, remember that the cheapest course doesn’t always equal the best value.

Compare the offerings carefully: total theory hours, included practical flight time (if any), and the level of ongoing support provided.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 4 11zon

Sometimes, investing slightly more upfront can pay off by ensuring you have a comprehensive learning experience and ongoing assistance.

So, once you’ve made up your mind to get a drone license, the next exciting step is finding the perfect drone training provider for you.

When I was in your shoes, I went with Dragon Drone Training, and it was a fantastic decision!

Being based in Scotland was a huge plus for me since I’m in Edinburgh – I love supporting local.

But what really sold me was the owner, Bob. His experience as a helicopter and plane pilot made me feel super confident in the training.

Plus, their course price was way more affordable than some of the big-name companies.

Overall, I was super happy with the training and would definitely recommend them!

drone pilot training providers in uk 1 11zon

Drone Pilot Training Cost Comparison

I’ve put together a handy table for you to easily compare the four popular drone training online courses and companies in the UK:

This table will help you easily assess essential features such as price, course format, exam types, and more, enabling you to make an informed decision. 

Check it out and find the perfect fit for your drone training needs.

FeatureUAVHUBDragon Drone TrainingBritish School of AviationHeliguy
Course formatOnline, on-demand videosOnline Zoom Class, in-person practicalIn-class theory & practicalOnline theory, in-person practical
Theory ExamOnlineOnlineIn-classOnline
Practical Flight AssessmentEnglandScotlandEnglandEngland
Operations ManualYesYesYesYes
Instructor BackgroundIndustry expertAviation Pilot + Drone Industry ExpertProfessional drone pilotsExperienced in-house team
Link To CourseView CourseView CourseView CourseView Course
checking drone wind levels

Step 3 – Essential Gear Guide for Your Drone Piloting Training UK

Congratulations on sorting out your drone training requirements the course!

Now, if you’re starting from scratch, you’re going to need some essential drone kit.

While I can’t speak for other providers of the drone training courses, some may require you to use your own drone equipment.

I would also recommended atleast getting a smaller sub 250g drone and getting some hours in practicing before taking any courses.

That’s why I’ve put together what I like to call the “drone pilot starter pack.”

It includes all the gear I would personally choose if I had to start over, drawing from my own experiences and the lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

By following my recommendations for the drone pilot starter pack, you can save yourself from the trial and error process and jump straight into using reliable and efficient equipment.

dji mini 2 and

Here is the drone gear I would recommend:

Top Pick
DJI Mini 4 Pro | My Recommended Drone
The DJI Mini 4 Pro is an excellent choice for beginners in the UK due to its compact, lightweight design weighing under 249g, which means you don't need to register the drone or obtain a licence to fly it recreationally in the UK. Mini 4 Pro offers advanced capabilities in a user-friendly package that allows beginners to capture high-quality footage while learning to fly safely.
Amazon Link
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/19/2024 05:25 am GMT
Budget Option
DJI Mini 2 | Best Budget Drone I Recommend
The DJI Mini 2 is the lowest budget drone I would recommend for a beginner because it offers excellent value, with great camera quality, significantly improved range and wind resistance over the original Mini, and useful features like QuickShots, while still being very portable and easy to fly, at a reasonable price point. Any drones below this price will not last long.
Amazon Link
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/19/2024 05:16 am GMT
repair drones 17 11zon

Step 4 – Review Training Course Materials

Once you’ve picked your provider, they’ll send you all the materials for your course. This is where it starts to feel real! Don’t be overwhelmed by the volume of information – you’ll tackle it step by step.

Expect to receive things like:

  • Comprehensive 290-page course booklet covering essential topics
  • 4 mock GVC exams with 60 questions each
  • Practical flight exercise booklet with various manoeuvres to practice
  • Aviation Map

My course booklet was massive! It covered everything required by the CAA for the GVC, from air law to meteorology. This became my go-to reference throughout the process.

The mock exams were super helpful too!

Drone Mock
Provided by Dragon Drone Training

Giving me a taste of what the actual test would be like. The flight exercise booklet was perfect for practising those manoeuvres needed for the practical test.

Focus on taking it one section at a time. The booklet might look intimidating, but remember, it’s broken down into specific topics like air law, meteorology, etc.

Start with one, master it, and move on to the next.

This steady progress will build confidence and get you ready to ace those exams!

Remember, the GVC isn’t just about flying, it’s about proving you understand the rules and responsibilities of being a drone pilot.

That’s why your booklet covers a wide range of topics:

  • Air Law & Responsibilities: Knowing the rules of the sky is crucial. No one wants to accidentally cause trouble!
  • Airspace Operating Principles: Where you can and can’t fly is about safety, not just being picky.
  • Airmanship & Safety: Being a responsible pilot means thinking beyond just yourself.
  • Human Factors: We all have limits, and understanding yours keeps you and others safe.
  • Meteorology: Weather isn’t just about choosing a sunny day, it impacts how your drone flies!
  • Navigation: Maps and charts help you plan legal, efficient flights.
  • UAS Knowledge: Knowing your drone inside and out is part of being a pro.
  • Operating Procedures: Having a plan in place means every flight goes smoothly.

Don’t get overwhelmed – think of each subject as a key you’re unlocking on your way to becoming a UK drone pilot!

drone pilot passed test 1

Step 5 – Obtain Your Flyer and Operator ID for Drone Operation

Before you can even dive into those GVC course materials, there’s a quick but important step you need to take care of: getting your Flyer ID and Operator ID.

The UK government requires anyone flying drones over 250 grams to be registered and pass an online safety test.

This is all about keeping our skies safe and responsible!

The training provider will expect you to have completed this BEFORE taking the course.

What is a Flyer and Operator ID?

A drone flyer ID is a unique identification number issued by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for individuals who want to operate drones weighing over 250 grams or equipped with a camera in the UK.

It is obtained by passing a theory test and registering online.

An operator ID, on the other hand, is required for individuals operating camera-equipped drones for commercial purposes and involves passing a separate theory test and paying a fee.

Visit the CAA Website

Read The Drone and Model Aircraft Code:

It’s really important to read The Drone and Model Aircraft Code thoroughly because it has all the information you need to pass the test.

It’s the starting point for anyone who wants to fly a drone or model aircraft in the UK.

Knowing the rules and best practices for flying drones is super important to keep everyone safe. By understanding and following The Code, you can make sure you’re using drones responsibly and following the rules set by the UK authorities.

Take The Drone and Model Aircraft Code Test: 

Passing the test is a crucial step in obtaining your Flyer ID. The test is online, free of charge, and you can take it as many times as you need to. You only need to pay for your operator ID once you pass your test.

You’ll need:

  • Email address that you can check when registering
  • Debit or credit card if you’re registering for an operator ID
RegistrationCostValid for
Operator ID£10.001 year
Flyer ID£05 years

My Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Your ID’s

I have done a full step-by-step guide to getting your flyer and operator ID’s in the UK. Pictures of all the steps.

The Drone and Model Aircraft Code Test:

  • The test is free.
  • It consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, with a passing score of 30.
  • The Drone and Model Aircraft Code can be referenced during the test.
  • Allocate at least 30 minutes for the test, but be aware of a 90-minute inactivity limit.
  • Unlimited test attempts are permitted.
  • Questions may appear in random order.

Upon passing the Drone and Model Aircraft Code test, you’ll receive your UK ‘Flyer ID‘ and ‘Operator ID‘. These IDs are necessary before you can start your drone GVC training.

To ensure legal compliance, label your drones and model aircraft with your operator ID. This unique number identifies you as the drone code, and model aircraft registration, operator and aids in accountability.

drone code labelling your drone 1

Labelling Your Drone

  1. Write your Operator ID in clear, block letters at least 3mm tall.
  2. Attach the label securely to the aircraft’s main body, ensuring visibility from the outside or easy accessibility within a compartment.
  3. Protect the label from damage and maintain legibility throughout the drone’s lifespan.
  4. Repeat this process for each drone or model aircraft under your responsibility, using the same Operator ID.
drone gear 3

Day 1 – Theory and Regulations

Okay, be prepared: Day 1 of your drone training is about diving deep into those regulations.

Today’s the day you start that exciting transformation into a skilled and responsible drone pilot in the UK.

Let me give you the rundown of what my first day was like to help you get ready for yours.

Remember, my training was all online due to the pandemic.

But even with the Zoom lessons, Day 1 was totally focused on the theory and regulations stuff. We went through a bunch of powerpoints that covered pretty much everything in that GVC booklet you got.

This stuff might feel a bit dry at first, but trust me, it’s the foundation for everything you’ll do later as a drone pilot!

Air Law/Responsibilities

During this module, students delve into the important topic of air law and responsibilities. They learn about the EU UAS Regulation Package, a set of rules and regulations that govern unmanned aircraft systems.

Additionally, they explore the CAP393 Air Navigation Order, which provides a legal framework for drone operations.

This session aims to ensure that future drone pilots are well-versed in the rules and regulations they need to follow.


Building a solid foundation of knowledge requires understanding the specific terms and vocabulary used in the drone industry.

This section of the course covers key terminology, enabling students to communicate effectively and comprehend the concepts discussed by flight instructors throughout the training.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 5

UAS Airspace Operating Principles

Exploring the principles of operating drones in different airspace conditions is vital for safe and responsible piloting. Participants receive an overview of airspace, including airspace classifications and specific types manned aviation used.

They also learn about airspace reservations and gain insight into the process of obtaining necessary information and approvals for operating drones in specific airspace areas.

Airmanship and Aviation Safety

Developing good airmanship principles is essential for every drone pilot. This module emphasizes the importance of flight safety, including aspects such as perception and operational mitigations.

Students also learn about the significance of maintaining detailed remote pilot logbooks, which serve as a record of their flights and experiences.

Human Performance and Limitations

Understanding human performance and limitations, commonly known as human factors, is crucial for safe and effective drone operations.

Topics covered include medical fitness requirements for pilots and the impact of factors like fatigue on performance and decision-making.

As the class progresses, engage actively by asking questions and seeking clarification on any concepts or regulations that are unclear to you.

This will not only enhance your understanding but also help you solidify the knowledge required for the theory test.

On the first day of the GVC drone course, you are immersed in a wealth of theory and new drone regulations too.

A lot of the information covered this day can found in these documents:

By gaining a strong understanding of air law, airspace operating principles, airmanship, and human factors, future commercial drone pilots will are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to operate drones responsibly and to fly drones safely everywhere.

drone from the air 15 11zon

Step 7 – 2nd Day of GVC Drone Course | Drone Controls and Weather

On the second day of your training, you will be focusing on drone operations, specifically on the basic principles of flight and control.

Understanding these basic concepts is crucial for safe and effective operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

In your Drone licence course, you can expect to be taught the fundamental principles of flight, which include lift, drag, thrust, and weight. This knowledge will enable you to make well-informed decisions while piloting a drone.

You’ll also learn about effective command and control, including the drone’s control systems and various flight modes.

Moreover, the course will cover essential aspects such as recognizing drone limitations, utilizing operating guides for specific drone models, maintaining your drone system, and leveraging technical mitigations like safety features and systems.

All of these topics will be presented in a concise and accessible manner.

As someone who has gone through the same online and training courses myself, I assure you that you’ll be able to learn and apply the information successfully, no matter your starting point.

After the fundamentals of controls, you move on to the effects of weather.

dji mavic 2 in rain 11zon

Meteorology: Obtaining and Interpreting Weather Information

During the second day of your first drone training course, you will also explore the fascinating field of meteorology. As a drone pilot, it’s crucial to understand weather conditions and how they affect your operations.

In this part of the online training here, you will learn how to read METAR and TAF reports.

Don’t worry if you’ve never encountered these reports before. When I took the online course, I also had no prior knowledge, but I was able to learn everything on the second day.

So, what exactly are METAR and TAF reports?

taf and metar drone weather training reports

METAR and TAF Reports

METAR (Meteorological Aerodrome Report) and TAFs (Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts) are important weather reports that drone pilots need to be familiar with. METAR reports provide concise descriptions of current weather conditions, while TAFs offer forecasts for up to 30 hours ahead.

You will learn how to decode and interpret METAR and TAF reports to assess potential risks associated with weather conditions and make informed drone flight decisions.

Importance of METAR and TAFs for Drone Pilots

Understanding METAR and TAF reports is essential for drone pilots as they provide valuable information about factors such as wind speed and direction, visibility and distance, cloud cover, and significant weather phenomena that may affect drone operations.

These reports help evaluate the feasibility and safety of flying a full drone commercially at a specific location and time.

Decoding METAR and TAF Reports

Although decoding METAR and TAF reports may seem challenging at first, your course instructor will guide you through numerous examples and provide the necessary knowledge and skills to read and understand these reports.

Through practice and video guidance alone, you will become proficient in interpreting weather information, which will benefit you during your theory test and real-world drone operations.

How to Decode a TAF Report

Step 1

Understand the TAF Format TAF reports follow a standardisesd format. They typically include the airport code, issuance time, valid period, and various weather elements.

Familiarise yourself with the format to quickly locate and interpret the relevant information.

Step 2

Identify the Airport and Issuance Time The TAF report begins with the airport identifier, such as EGPF for Glasgow Airport.

Next, locate the issuance time, usually provided in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is denoted by a “Z” at the end. For example, “031056Z” means the TAF was issued on the 3rd day at 10:56 UTC.

Step 3

Determine the Valid Period Find the valid period, which indicates when the TAF is applicable.

It consists of a start time and an end time. For instance, “0312/0412” means the TAF is valid from the 3rd day at 12:00 UTC to the 4th day at 12:00 UTC.

Step 4

Analyse the Weather Elements The TAF report provides specific weather elements for different time periods within the valid period.

Analyse each element using the following key:

TermRepresentation in TAFDecoding Explanation
AirportEGPFIdentifies the specific airport (e.g., EGPF for Glasgow Airport)
Issued on031056ZIndicates the date (03rd day) and time (10:56 UTC) when the TAF was issued
Valid from0312Specifies the start time (03rd day at 12:00 UTC) of the TAF validity period
Valid until0412Specifies the end time (04th day at 12:00 UTC) of the TAF validity period
Time Period0312/0412Indicates the time range (from 03rd day 12:00 UTC to 04th day 12:00 UTC) for which the forecast is applicable
Wind06005KTProvides the wind direction (060 degrees) and speed (5 knots)
Visibility9999Specifies the horizontal visibility (9999 meters)
CloudsSCT035Describes the cloud coverage (Scattered clouds) and altitude (3500 feet)
ProbabilityPROB30Indicates the percentage chance (30%) of specific conditions occurring
Temporary ConditionsTEMPO 0312/0315Specifies temporary changes (from 03rd day 12:00 UTC to 03rd day 15:00 UTC) in weather conditions
Becoming ConditionsBECMG 0409/0412Indicates expected gradual changes (from 04th day 09:00 UTC to 04th day 12:00 UTC) in weather conditions
TAF Decoding Key Table

Let’s decode an example TAF report: 

TAF: EGPF 031056Z 0312/0412 06005KT 9999 SCT035 PROB30 TEMPO 0312/0315 8000 -RA BECMG 0409/0412 08015KT

The above becomes: TAF report for Glasgow Airport (EGPF) on the 3rd day at 10:56 UTC until the 4th day at 12:00 UTC indicates the following weather conditions.

The wind is blowing from 060 degrees at a speed of 5 knots. The visibility is good at 9999 meters. Scattered clouds are present at an altitude of 3500 feet. 

There is a 30% chance of specific weather conditions occurring. Temporary changes are expected between 12:00 UTC and 15:00 UTC on the 3rd day, with visibility decreasing to 8000 meters and light rain (-RA). 

Becoming conditions are forecasted from 09:00 UTC to 12:00 UTC on the 4th day, with the wind shifting to 080 degrees at a speed of 15 knots.

How It Was Decoded

EGPFGlasgow Airport (EGPF)
031056Z03rd day at 10:56 UTC
0312/041203rd day at 12:00 to 04th day at 12:00
06005KTWind: 060 degrees at 5 knots
9999Visibility: 9999 meters (unrestricted)
SCT035Clouds: Scattered clouds at 3500 feet
PROB30Probability: 30% chance of specific conditions occurring
TEMPOTemporary Conditions
0312/0315Temporary Conditions: 03rd day from 12:00 UTC to 03rd day at 15:00 UTC
8000Visibility 8000 meters
-RALight rain
BECMGBecoming Conditions
0409/041204th day at 09:00 UTC to 04th day at 12:00 UTC
08015KTWind shifting to 080 degrees at a speed of 15 knots.

The exam will test your knowledge and ability to interpret weather information accurately, ensuring you are well-prepared to make informed decisions about flying your drone in different weather conditions.

To reinforce your understanding of METAR and TAF reports, these topics will be included in your drone GVC licence exam.

taf drone training test question
Supplied by Dragon Drone Training

Here is what the GVC exam questions would look like:

TAF: EGLL 051200Z 0513/0524 32010KT 8000 BKN008 BECMG 0515/0517 32015KT

In the given TAF report, what is the wind speed in knots during the initial time period?

A) 10 knots

B) 15 knots

C) 20 knots

D) 25 knots

Please select the correct answer from the options provided.

Through practice, guidance from your instructor, and the incorporation of meteorology into your drone operations, you will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to enhance the safety and success of your flights. 

NATS Scotland 11zon

day 2 | Aeronautical Charts Reading

After getting acquainted with TAFs, I was introduced to another new skill: reading aeronautical charts. I had never looked at one of these charts before, but the instructor soon had everyone unfold their charts and dive in.

The course covered aeronautical navigation and charts, which involved:

  • Longitude and Latitude: We started with understanding the basics of longitude and latitude, learning how these geographic coordinates are used to pinpoint locations on Earth’s surface.
  • Aviation Charts: We delved into aviation-specific charts, learning to interpret airspace classifications, navigation aids, airways, and other critical information relevant to drone operations.
  • GPS Principles: The course also touched on the fundamentals of GPS technology, including how it works, the role it plays in drone navigation, and how to use it effectively.

A key aspect of this section was learning how to read and interpret aeronautical charts using longitude and latitude coordinates.

This skill is vital for planning and executing safe drone flights while adhering to air laws and regulations.

The instructor engaged us in a practical exercise to ensure that we could apply the knowledge we had gained about reading aeronautical charts.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 3 11zon

The exercise consisted of the instructor providing us with specific coordinates, and we were tasked with interpreting the information on the charts to answer questions related to the destination.

We had to determine various aspects, such as the type of terrain or landmark at the given coordinates, the flying height ceiling for that area, and the classification of the airspace.

This hands-on approach not only reinforced our understanding of longitude and latitude but also helped us become more proficient in reading and interpreting aeronautical charts.

As a result, we as recreational pilots were better equipped to plan and execute safe drone flights while complying with air laws and regulations.

The practical, interactive nature of this exercise made it an enjoyable and effective learning experience, allowing us to gain confidence in our ability to read and use aeronautical charts.

dji mavic 2 in rain 1
Supplied By Dragon Drone Training

You can expect a section of the GVC exam to use this aeronautical map.

An example of the question would be:

Question: Based on the given coordinates below, identify the airspace classification at this location:

Coordinates: 38°53’22.6″N 77°02’11.8″W

A. Class A

B. Class B

C. Class C

D. Class D

E. Class E

F. Class G

As someone who had no prior experience with aeronautical charts, I found the course’s approach to be informative and reassuring, allowing me to grasp these concepts with ease.

You can expect to acquire similar skills and knowledge when you embark on this drone training journey.

drone operator

Day 3 | Theory Test & Operations Manual

On the 3rd day of the GVC training course, I felt ready to take the GVC drone licence theory test, having revised each night.

If you’ve been studying consistently, you should feel prepared for this important exam.

The GVC drone licence theory test consists of:

  1. A formal CAA exam with 60 multiple-choice questions.
  2. The test is conducted online over Zoom, with a remote invigilator.
  3. You’ll have a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the test, but most students finish in less than 40 minutes.
  4. The passing score is 75%, and the course has an excellent pass rate.
james tip for becoming a drone pilot 6

I found the exam to be manageable, and I have some tips for those preparing to sit for it:

  1. Take as many mock exams as possible. This will help you become familiar with the question types and build your confidence.
  2. Make sure you’re comfortable with reading TAFs and aeronautical charts. These are two sections where you can score easy marks.
  3. Pay special attention to the regulations, as this part might be the most challenging for some students.

By following these tips and maintaining a consistent study routine, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the GVC drone license theory test and achieve a passing score.

Good luck!

drone hardcase laid out 23 11zon

Operations Manual Submission

Congratulations on passing your theory test exam!

You’re now in the final stretch.

The next step is to create your enterprise drone operations manual. Ideally, your drone service provider should give you a template manual to use as a starting point.

The operations manual is an important document that explains the rules, steps, and guidelines for safely and responsibly flying a drone, either for a specific organization or an individual drone pilot.

It acts as a guide for pilots to make sure they follow the right practices and rules set by aviation authorities.

james tip for becoming a drone pilot 8

The operations manual is necessary because:

  • Creates standard procedures, making drone operations consistent.
  • Makes sure pilots follow local rules and laws, which helps avoid fines or penalties.
  • Increases safety by giving pilots a clear understanding of their duties and the right steps to follow when flying a drone.

In the UK, you need to submit your operations manual to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) when applying for a General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC).

The CAA will check if the manual meets the required safety standards new regulations and rules.

Once the CAA approves your operations manual, it’s your job to keep it current and make sure all pilots working under your permission follow the manual’s procedures. It’s important to regularly review and update the manual to include any changes in rules, technology, or your drone operations.

flying a drone at night 3 11zon

In this step, you’ll need to fill out your drone information, flight logs, and conduct a risk assessment and flight plan for a drone operation.

Your operations manual should cover the following operating procedures:

  1. Pre-planning: Outline the process of selecting a location, obtaining permissions, and gathering necessary information before the drone operation.
  2. Situational awareness: Describe how you’ll maintain awareness of your surroundings, including other aircraft, obstacles, and people on the ground.
  3. Communications: Explain your communication plan with any team members, air traffic control, and other relevant parties during the drone operation.
  4. Pre-flight: Detail the steps you’ll take before each flight, such as conducting a pre-flight inspection, checking the weather, and setting up the drone.
  5. In-flight: Describe the procedures you’ll follow while the drone is in the air, including maintaining visual line of sight, monitoring battery life, and managing any in-flight emergencies.
  6. Post-flight: List the steps to take after each flight, like logging flight data, inspecting the drone for any damage, and storing the drone and its accessories safely.
  7. Security: Explain how you’ll protect your drone, its data, and any sensitive information associated with your operation.

By completing your operations manual, you’ll demonstrate your understanding of safe and responsible drone operation procedures, preparing you for the practical drone test. 

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Day 4 | Practical Drone Flight Test

The final hurdle in obtaining your GVC drone license is sitting your practical flight test.

In the practical flight test portion of obtaining your UK drone license, you’ll be required to demonstrate your ability to perform specific flight maneuvers with precision and control. I recommend having at least 25hours of drone flying practice before siting this

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One of the key components of this test is flying circuits. 

These are essential for proving your ability to handle your drone safely and responsibly in various situations.

Departure and Approach

During the practical flight test, you will be asked to perform a standard departure and approach. Performing this maneuver demonstrates your control over the drone during critical phases of flight, such as take-off and landing.

  1. Start your drone.
  2. Lift it to a height of 2 meters above the take-off area.
  3. Depart at a constant 45-degree angle and speed.
  4. Complete the manoeuvre and return to the same position in the sky.
  5. Land the drone safely.

 The examiner will assess your ability to maintain a constant angle and speed during both departure and approach.

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Figure of 8

In addition to the standard departure and approach, you will also need to perform a figure of eight exercises.

This exercise should be performed with GPS both on and off.

This more complex manoeuvre will test your ability to fly your drone smoothly, slowly, and consistently in a figure-of-eight pattern. You will need to demonstrate your ability to compensate for wind and maintain accurate yaw control to avoid disorientation. 

What You Are Judged On: Key Factors for Success

  1. Adherence to procedures: During the practical flight test, it’s essential to follow all specific procedures to showcase your knowledge and professionalism as a drone pilot.
  2. Drone control: Maintaining control of your drone throughout the test is critical, as it demonstrates your ability to handle the aircraft safely and responsibly.
  3. Compensation for external factors: Show that you can adapt to changing conditions, such as wind, by adjusting your flying technique accordingly.
  4. Accurate and consistent maneuvers: Execute the required maneuvers with precision and consistency, proving your competency in handling various flight situations.

By excelling in these four key areas, you’ll demonstrate your skills and competency as a drone pilot, paving the way to obtaining your UK drone license

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The Final Steps to Becoming a Fully Licensed Drone Pilot in the UK

Once you’ve successfully passed your practical flight test, you’re almost at the finish line! The next step is to submit the Operations Manual you created during the course to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

After your submission is reviewed and approved, you will become a fully licensed drone pilot in the UK, holding the highest permission drone license available.

What’s Next After Your GVC?

As a certified drone pilot, it’s crucial to stay informed and up-to-date with the ever-changing drone guidance and laws. This ensures that you continue to operate your drone safely and responsibly, in compliance with current regulations.

Be aware of any transitional changes that may take place, as these could affect your drone operations. Regularly check the CAA website, attend industry events, and connect with other drone pilots to stay informed about the latest developments in drone regulations and best practices.

By staying informed and continually refining your skills, you’ll be well-equipped to excel as a professional drone pilot in the UK.


In conclusion, getting your full GVC drone license in the UK is a worthwhile experience that opens up exciting opportunities for drone pilots.

This step-by-step guide on how to become a drone pilot in the uk, based on my own experience, aims to give you a clear understanding of the process and what to expect during the course.

Keep in mind that experiences might differ depending on the provider, but the main ideas should stay the same.

Becoming a licensed drone pilot means committing to safety, professionalism, and ongoing learning. As you start this journey, remember to stay current with the ever-changing drone rules and guidance to make sure you remain a responsible and skilled pilot.

Becoming A Drone Pilot FAQ

Q: How long does it take to become a licensed drone pilot in the UK?

It took me 4 days to complete the full GVC drone training course, pass the theory exam, and take the practical drone test. I recommend having at least 25 hours of drone flight experience before starting the course.

Q: How much did it cost to become a drone pilot in the UK?

The total cost for me to become a drone pilot in the UK was £1,449. This included the £499 course fee, a DJI Mini 3 drone, and additional expenses for accessories and gear.

Q: What is the process of obtaining a GVC drone license in the UK?

The process I followed to obtain my GVC license involved a 3-day, online drone training class via Zoom, a 60-question online theory examination and test on Zoom, and an in-person practical drone test on the fourth day.

Is there an age requirement to become a drone pilot in the UK?

Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to hold a GVC drone license in the UK

How often do I need to renew my GVC drone license in the UK?

The GVC drone license is valid for five years. You’ll need to renew your license before it expires to continue flying drones commercially.

Can I fly a drone in other countries with a UK GVC drone license?

While the GVC drone license is recognized in some countries, drone regulations vary worldwide. It is essential to check local drone laws and obtain any necessary permits or licenses before flying your drone in another country.

What equipment do I need to become a drone pilot in the UK?

Q: What equipment do I need to become a drone pilot in the UK?

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