David: Hello there, I’m David Johnson, and welcome to another edition of Coptrz TV. This time around it’s all about the permission for commercial operations, the PfCO. And, of course, there are many locations around the UK that Coptrz run this course at. I’m at one of those locations today. We’re talking about ground school, then we move on to flight assessment. And right now it’s lunchtime, so let’s go and get some food and chat to some of the guys taking part in the Coptrz PfCO course.
So, first things first, what is a PfCO, and why do you need one? Coptrz Lead Course Instructor, John Moreland, can tell us more.
John: PfCO stands for Permission for Commercial Operations. The CAA issue this document to an approved SUA operator, SUA being a small unmanned aircraft. It is a legal requirement that you have this bit of paper, this permission, before you operate commercially with a drone.
David: Now, let’s take a couple of our students out of the class for a few minutes and see how they’re feeling about taking the Coptrz PfCO course.
Patrick: I’m feeling quite excited to be doing the thing, obviously, because it’s something that I do love doing. I’m cautious just to think that I’ve had a little bit of experience flying models before. I’ve got a little bit of experience with model aircraft, but obviously this is a very different thing. It’s gonna be very intense, and I’m expecting that to be quite difficult, because, obviously, this is a serious enterprise we’re undertaking. But I’m really looking forward to it, really.
Tom: I’m 30 years old. My background is in angling media. I was editor of a magazine primarily about competitive freshwater fishing, called “Max Fishing Magazine.” About three months ago, I decided to take a leap and start up my own business, focusing on film-making in that area, and primarily off the internet, with clients varying really from, obviously, places where people go fishing to the people who make the fishing technical equipment. So a big step, a lot to learn, but so far I’m really enjoying it.
David: The Coptrz course comprises of two days of theory. You’ll take your ground school test at the end of the second day. The third day is flight planning, and then it’s on to your flight assessment.
Now, I’m trying to be as quiet as possible here, because behind me you can see there’s a flight assessment in progress. And this is the next step once you complete and you pass your ground school. And whenever I completed my permissions initially, I thought it was gonna be the ground school, which was gonna be the difficult thing. I thought the flying I would sail through it. On the day, however, it is just like you’re back at school, and you’re having to do one of those exams. But, essentially, all the examiner is looking for is to monitor how you would go and actually perform a job for one of your clients. What have you got to do? You’ve got to prove you’re competent in flying the craft, follow those FRCs, and make sure that you know at all times where your aircraft is in the sky. He’ll more than likely ask you to perform a number of maneuvers in GPS and then in arty mode. And then, of course, on a day like today, you’ve got winds around about nine miles an hour or so. When you’re in arty, you won’t have to fight the wind, but you certainly will have to keep your wits about you. So always check that anemometer.
And, of course, there’s different things like orientation, where the examiner will ask you to turn your craft 180 degrees, and then he might ask you to move to the left or to the right, in which case, if your craft is turned 180 degrees, your controls would be flipped as well. So that’s one to bear in mind. If you’re treating it just like you would a normal job, you’ll be flying to a particular location, maybe asked to take a photograph from a certain height, and also something simple like a figure out there. All these things you can practise in your own time before you actually come and take your flight assessment. And once that, of course, is all done, and you pass, then it’s back to the books, because you’re preparing your operations manual in order to send to the CAA for your PfCO.
Patrick has been taking his flight assessment today. In fact, he’s just finished. So let’s see how he got on.
Patrick: It went really well. The instructors are really good. There’s a good level of preparation beforehand, which, obviously, you need. There’s a little bit of pressure when you actually start the test, which obviously is a good thing. And I passed, which is great.
David: So you’ve completed your ground school, getting your qualification, and passed your flight assessment. Now, it’s on to preparing your ops manual and CAA submission, and we can even help with that, too. Visit coptrz.com or give us a call on 0330 111 71 11. That’s 0330 111 71 11.
So any advice from our students on taking your PfCO with Coptrz?
Patrick: Do it. Absolutely great bunch of people, obviously very professional people from within the industry. A lot of advice, not only about the actual mechanics of doing things, but also, you know, the kind of general business advice and things as well. This is quite good. And you’ve got people from different angles or different places and different kind of industry sectors doing it. So it’s really, really interesting. And I think it’s good even if you fly as a hobby, because, really, there’s a lot of people flying out there that are breaking the law every single day they take off, and you just do not realise until you’ve done the course how careful you have to be with these things.
Tom: It’s been absolutely fantastic. I would definitely recommend Coptrz. The facilities have been great. The range of experience you’ve got in terms of the people who led the course on is brilliant. The facilities are good. A very positive experience.
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