As Civil Aviation Authority approved commercial operators in the U.K, we are often asked what CAA commercial drone training do we recommend.
This question has been asked by a wide range of people from hobbyists who fly drones or model aircraft, to individuals who read about the new and exciting drone industry and think it may be a business opportunity.
The last time we looked at the commercial drone training market in detail was in January 2016; so we decide to take another look 6 month on to see if there have been any changes.
The CAA say to get permission to carry out Aerial Work commercially, the drone pilot need to undergo an assessment process and pass a flight and theory test with one of the CAA approved National Qualified Entities (NQE’s). The NQE’s can help the candidates prepare a detailed Operations Manual, which also has to be submitted by the candidate and approved by the CAA.
This is the relevant extract from the CAA website:
To get this Permission, you will need to:
• demonstrate a sufficient understanding of aviation theory (airmanship, airspace, aviation law and good flying practice)
• pass a practical flight assessment (flight test)
• develop basic procedures for conducting the type of flights you want to do and set these out in an Operations Manual
There are a number of recognised assessment organisations that can help you meet these requirements. The NQE’s will generally help you develop an operations manual and will offer advice on completing any additional paperwork.
Once you have passed your flight and theory test and submitted you operations manual it can take the CAA up to 8 weeks to approve you and send your permission.
Here is the current CAA list of NQE’s where you can do your drone pilot training.
When we looked through the various courses on offer you have to read the small print, because some NQE’s do not show all their charges in their headline price.
Some NQE’S separate all of the different training elements out, and the courses on offer vary from 5 day residential including meals to distance e-learning with a 1 day course at the end.
The 2-3 day non-residential courses require the candidates to do extra work pre or post the course to complete all training modules and operations manual for submission to the CAA with the relevant form.
All the training course we looked at do not include the CAA submission fee of £112.
Training course prices are also quoted both inclusive and exclusive of vat. So if you are not a company and cannot claim vat back, you have to add 20% to the cost of the drone pilot training.
So here is out definitive price comparison:
|Drone Training Courses Price Comparison|
|Name||Location||Headline Price||Total Price||Notes|
|Heliguy||Newcastle||1599||1599||4 Day Training Course|
|UAV Air||Various UK locations||1249||1500||Distant Learning + 2 day classroom|
|Commercial Drone Training||Newton Abbot||1000||1000||Non Residential 5 day course|
|Birmingham||1399||1399||Residential5 day course with meals included|
|Yorkshire||900||900||3 day non residential|
|Whispercam||Bristol||950||1140||I day course + distance learning|
|Various UK locations|
|Quadcopters/ ICARUS||Leyand||1300||2.5 days and includes ops manual|
|Resource Group||Cwmbran||995||1194||2 day course + distance Learning|
|Droneflight||Richmond||1282||1522||£240 for ops manual|
|Various UK locations|
|UAV8||Suffolk||1350||1350||2 day residential course some meals included|
|UAV Academy||Gloucestershire||1200||1200||2 day non-residential|
|The Aerial Academy||Norwich||1100||1220||3 day training course|
|Drone Pilot Academy||Wakefield||1095||1214||3 day residential|
|Cambridge UAV||Cambridge||995||1194||2 day non residential|
|EuroUSC||Various UK locations||995||1194||2 day non residential|
It is still difficult to find prices from all of the NQE’s on the CAA list because some companies are approved but do no offer courses (eg Cyberhawk) and others are offering courses (Quadcopters) on behalf of approved NQE’s and are not very clear who are the actual training companies.
We telephoned the fourteen companies on our list w/c 28th June posing as a potential customer. Some were really helpful, open and honest (Whispercam & Commercial Drone Training), others had little time for us and were very aloof (Resource Group & EuroUSC).
Some NQE companies like Heliguy offer training but their primary business is drone sales. So you can get both advice and a discount on you drone or training, if buy both from them.
CAA Drone Pilot Training Prices Fall by 20%
The good news is the total prices for the full course have come down 20% from an average of over £1,500 in January to around £1,250 in July 2016.
Coming off the fence, our recommendation for drone training in the U.K is Commercial Drone Training, because in our opinion they offer the best price, overall course and help with the operations manual.
If you are thinking of buying a DJI Drone then you may want to talk to Heliguy. They will offer a discount on their training course when you by your DJI drone off them. Happy flying.