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  1. Hi all, received the below email from Ren out of Manchester. With his permission, I'm posting. Hope this is helpful to those of you in the UK considering getting your PFAW. -- Hi Alan, Ren here in the UK. I have just undergone the process to become a professional UAV pilot here in the UK. To do this you need a permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (the UK equivalent of your FAA) and have to undergo training with a CAA accredited organisation to achieve this. There are a number of organisations that offer this service and it’s up to the individual involved which one you go with. Often this will come down to the one which offers to run the course nearest to where you live but they all offer more or less the same thing. The goal is obtain a permission to fly for payment or valuable consideration from the CAA. The process is set out below. Firstly sign up with a accredited organisation. It’s fairly expensive! Expect to pay around £1,600 (About $2,400) but you do get a comprehensive package. Part one: Attend (usually) a 3 day classroom based training course. The courses are usually taken by air professionals, either ex pilots or ex RAF (Royal Air Force) personnel. So they know what they’re talking about! This part of the course covers the basics. The theory of flight, weather, navigation, air law, flight planning, lipo batteries and how to go about writing your operations manual. Part of the course involves a flight planning scenario, here you are given a fictitious flight operation and you have to plan it according to all the air laws and regulations and brief your flight to the instructor and the rest of the class. It all seems a bit daunting at first but they make it as humorous as possible whilst sticking to the seriousness of the subject. It is actually quite good fun. I enjoyed it and obviously you get to meet other people that want to get into the professional flying sector. At the end of the 3 day course you have to take a theory of flight examination, the pass mark is 75%, so if you can get above this, you’re in! The examination is 90 minutes long and you must answer every question. I passed! Before the 3 day course (at least with the company that I signed up with) there was an e-earning element, so you cover most of the first day of the course online before you even reach the classroom. I found this really useful and it really gives you a head start and a taste of what to expect. Part two: You have to write an operations manual. This is a document that sets out how you are going to conduct your UAV business. Mostly it is to do with safety but it is quite a substantial document and will run into around 50 pages of A4 size text! It is perhaps the hardest part of the process. It took me one month to write my operations manual. Once completed you have to submit your operations manual for acceptance. Your manual will be reviewed by flight professionals. My first submission was rejected but they point out the areas that they want you to change and all you need do is amend these areas, you don’t have to re-write the entire manual! At the very beginning, they emphasise that it has to be your operations manual and relates to the type of UAV that you are going to use in your business. If you try copying someone else’s manual, they will know and it could get you kicked off the course if you try this and you don’t get your money back! After having your operations manual accepted, you move onto the final stage. Part three: Operations and flight practical test. In this you have to demonstrate that you can actually fly a UAV! You are assigned an instructor (mine was an army helicopter pilot) and they give you a mission to fly. Your job is to plan the mission according to what you have written in your operations manual and stick to the air law element of the theory element of the course. So on the day, you have to plan the mission, look out for the weather (TAF or METAR), know the type of airspace that you are flying in (controlled – uncontrolled) erect a take off and landing cordon and choose an emergency landing site. Obviously the best bit of this part of the course is that you actually get to fly your UAV. You have to demonstrate that you can fly and have good control, I had to demonstrate that I could fly in full manual mode as I had written this in my operations manual. They give you 3 emergencies to deal with on the test and you have to deal with these immediately and without hesitation or you will fail. I passed. Part of your operations manual will have to include an emergency procedures section. You have to write it as challenge and response. So for instance: Loss of GPS Signal: 1. Fight mode.................................................................................................................Change 2. GPS.............................................................................................................................Regained 3. Land............................................................................................................................ASAP Public Encroachment: 1. Safe Configuration.....................................................................................................Select If the matter cannot be resolved 2. Landing site...............................................................................................................Select 3. Land...........................................................................................................................As soon as it is safe to do so Air Incursion: If another aircraft manned or unmanned were to enter the AOO 1. Landing site...............................................................................................................Select 2.Land.............................................................................................................................ASAP The PIC would be responsible for the reporting of any incident post flight. Anyway, you get my my drift! The emergency procedures that I was given were 1. Pilot incapacitation 2. A bird strike 3. Air incursion. So basically for incapacitation you just hit the home button or turn of the transmitter, they want to see that your UAV can return on its own to the home point. Most of it is land as soon as possible. It’s all fairly straight forward but you have to remember what YOU have written in YOUR operations manual. You have then completed all the elements required. They pass you and give you a recommendation. You then apply (and pay the fee £112 – $168) to the CAA for a permission to fly. Once you have the permission you can fly for payment or valuable consideration. The permission lasts for 1 year, you then have re-apply but you don’t have to do the course again, you just have to re-apply annually. The re-application fee is £56 – $112 annually. If and when you get a new UAV you need to update your operations manual and submit it to the CAA. The fee is per aircraft by the way, so it could get very expensive if you intend to operate several different types of aircraft. You also have to have public liability insurance, you won’t get your permission unless you are fully insured. And that’s about it! It sounds hard but it’s not that bad. It took me 4 months from deciding that I wanted to do it, to finally getting qualified. All the best, Ren, Manchester United Kingdom.