how to be a drone pilot in the uk

How to Become a Drone Pilot UK | Obtain Your GVC License

Feeling unsure about how to become a drone pilot in the UK?

You’re not the only one.

When I started my own path to become a commercial drone pilot, I found out that the UK drone market was really big – worth £1.3 billion in 2020! This really excited me and made me want to put money into becoming really good at it.

So, I spent £2,500+ to learn everything I could become the best drone service in the UK.

I thought it might be helpful for others if I put together a breakdown of how I spent my money, along with everything I’ve learned and what you might expect if you wanted to do the same. This way, others who want to become drone pilots can have a clear idea of what it takes.

You’ll find details about how much money you’ll need for drone equipment, training, and getting certified.

It can be hard to know where to start, especially when drone training prices range from £500 to more than £2,500 for the same course by different providers!

My goal is to give you an honest and clear account, so you can make the best choices for yourself.

Steps For How How To Become A Drone Pilot In UK:

  • Read The Drone and Model Aircraft Code to understand the rules and best practices for flying drones in the UK
  • Take The Drone Code Test to Obtain your Flyer and Operator ID for drone operations
  • Take a General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) course, which covers the theory and practical aspects of drone piloting. 
  • Pass a 60-question multiple choice online theory exam with a 75% minimum score
  • Pass a practical flight test to demonstrate your skills and competency as a drone pilot
  •  Submit the Operations Manual you created during the course to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Join me as we follow the steps to become a certified drone pilot in the UK and start this exciting journey!

drone surveyor

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.

Table of contents

Step 1 – Becoming a Skilled Drone Pilot in the UK

My main goal was to become a drone pilot for large-scale drone surveys in the UK.

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

  • A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC)
  • General VLOS Certificate (GVC)

The level of license you need depends on the weight of the drone and the level of risk involved in flying it. 

drone surveyor working

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 licenses through a combined training course is a worthwhile investment that can significantly enhance your career as a drone pilot.

Having both licenses showcases your versatility and ability to handle various types of drones, which makes you a more valuable candidate in the job market.

Employers value candidates who are knowledgeable about safety protocols, airspace regulations, and flight restrictions, which reduces the risk of legal issues and ensures responsible and compliant operations. 

This can lead to more business opportunities and contribute to your professional success. 

A2 CofC Drone License Explained

The A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) is a remote competency certificate that focuses on the safe operation of small drones near uninvolved people.

It covers both commercial and non-commercial operations. To operate safely in the A2 Sub-Category of the OPEN Category under UAS regulations, this course is essential; without it, you might face restrictions in certain areas.

The A2 CofC course teaches students flight fundamentals, like navigating congested airspace, and covers essential aspects like battery safety and environmental factors when flying.

how much does a drone survey cost uk

GVC Drone Certification Explained

The General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) is a recognised qualification proving remote pilot competency for VLOS (visual line of sight) operations within the Specific Category. This category is for operations with a higher risk than those in the Open Category or an equivalent risk to those beyond the Open Category’s scope.

The GVC is perfect for drone pilots involved in large commercial operations with drones like the M300 RTK, M30 Series, and Inspire 2

To also fly commercially used drones in the Specific Category, drone pilots need operational authorisation from the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA).

The GVC course includes a theoretical learning period, a theory exam, and a practical flight assessment. It’s more hands-on and comprehensive than the A2 CofC, covering larger range of topics like air law, UAS airspace safety, navigation, and meteorology.

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
A2 CofC Vs GVC License Comparison Table

A2 CofC Vs GVC License

When considering drone licenses, I weighed the options and ultimately opted for the GVC (General VLOS Certificate) – the top-tier license.

With the GVC, you attain the highest level of drone licensing, providing comprehensive coverage for your piloting needs.

However, it’s worth noting that there are providers offering combined GVC and A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency) courses. This means you can pursue both licenses simultaneously, streamlining the process and maximizing your training experience.

In my case, I found a provider that offered an A2 CofC + GVC course, allowing me to cover both license processes within this guide.

This comprehensive approach ensures that you receive a well-rounded education and acquire the necessary qualifications for various types of drone operations.

By choosing the right license(s) for your goals and undertaking a combined training course, you can expand your opportunities and enhance your proficiency as a drone pilot.

drones in construction

Step 2 – Selecting the Ideal Drone Training Provider for Your Journey

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 decided to go with Dragon Drone Training, and let me tell you why they were such a great fit!

Dragon drone training was based up in Scotland, which was a bonus for me based in Edinburgh. It’s always nice to support local businesses, and being in the same city made everything feel more accessible.

One thing that really stood out to me about Dragon Drone Training was its owner, Bob.

What impressed me the most was his background in actual helicopter and plane flying! It made me feel really confident in his expertise and experience. I mean, who could be a better drone teacher than someone who has flown real helicopters?

When it came to the cost of Dragon Drone Training’s course, I was pleasantly surprised. The price for the training was £499, far below what I had seen from companies like Heliguy, UAV hub, Coptrz ect. 

The GVC course covered a lot of ground, but here are the main components:

  • Student study guide covering the CAA GVC syllabus
  • 3 day interactive course covering the syllabus subjects below delivered by live a Zoom lecture promoting questions and answers.
  • A formal CAA 60 questions exam online over zoom with a remote invigilator and takes a maximum of 75 minutes with a 75% pass mark although, most students take less than 40 minutes
  • Access to theoretical knowledge practice papers from our Question Bank.
  • A flight skill test on the 4th day or at your convenience 
  • Structured self-assessment practice flight manoeuvres guide.
drone surveyor

Overall, I felt like the training did a great job of covering all the necessary material and preparing me for the exam and drone flight skill exam.

Naturally, I can only share my personal experience, but based on that experience, I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking a drone training provider, not only in Scotland but also beyond. They exceeded my expectations in terms of knowledge, support, and overall drone training experience.

If you’re interested in scheduling a GVC with Dragon Drone Training, use the contact form below.

Get Started Your Drone Training Today!
Ready to take your drone piloting skills to new heights? Fill out the contact form below. We’ll get back to you promptly to discuss your training needs and help you embark on your exciting drone journey.

GVC Provider 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
Drone Training Companies Cost Comparison

Check The Area

When considering these various drone training courses, school and companies, it is important to check when the General VLOS Certificate (GVC) drone test is taking place and whether the providers cover your area.

The GVC test is a requirement for obtaining the license, and it is crucial to find out the availability of testing dates and locations.

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

The best part is, I’m sharing this valuable information with you for free.

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.

So, let’s dive in and discover the essential gear you’ll need to embark on your drone piloting journey with confidence.

Top Pick
DJI Mini 3 Best Drone for Under £1000

DJI Mini 3 Pro

Top Pick: Best Value-for-Money

Experience stunning aerial photography with the DJI Mini 3, a budget-conscious drone under £1000 that features 4K HDR video, a lightweight design, and ease of use. No license is needed due to its sub-250g weight, and the extra savings can be put toward the Fly More Combo kit for an even better flying experience.

The DJI Mini 3 Pro is truly the ultimate entry point into the thrilling world of drone piloting for aspiring enthusiasts, especially when considering a budget under £1000.

As an experienced drone pilot, I often get questions from people who want to start flying drones. They usually ask, “What’s the best drone for beginners?” Without any hesitation, I always recommend the DJI Mini 3 as the perfect beginner’s drone.

Overall, the DJI Mini 3 drone is a great choice for anyone looking to get started with drone flying and aerial photography, and it offers a range of features and capabilities that make it a versatile and reliable option.

The DJI Mini 3 is the best choice for beginner drone pilots, offering a perfect blend of affordability, portability, and advanced features. Weighing under 249 grams, this lightweight drone allows aspiring pilots to practice their flying skills before even obtaining a GVC license, making it an ideal starting point.

DJI Mini 3 kit

Its compact design is perfect for capturing stunning aerial shots during various adventures, while features like 4K HDR video capabilities, True Vertical Shooting, QuickShots, and Panorama enable beginners to focus on creativity rather than technicalities.

When buying a Mini 3, the Fly More Combo is a must-have upgrade.

I can attest to the incredible benefits of choosing the DJI Mini 3 Fly More Combo. In my personal experience, the two additional batteries and portable charger have been invaluable, allowing me to enjoy a total flight time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, which has made a significant difference in capturing stunning aerial shots during my excursions.

dji mini 3 fly more combo kit

The new DJI remote included in the Fly More Combo has been a game-changer for me. In the past, I encountered numerous frustrating instances where I was all set to fly, only to face Wi-Fi connectivity issues when trying to sync my phone with the drone.

With the new DJI mini 3 updated controller, I no longer face these issues, and I can truly appreciate the seamless plug-and-play experience it offers.

Additionally, the shoulder bag that comes with the combo has made it incredibly easy for me to carry the drone to scenic spots. Every time I use the DJI Mini 3 Fly More Combo, I’m reminded of what an excellent upgrade it has been and how it has significantly enhanced my drone flying adventures.

The DJI Mini 3 is the ultimate gateway into the exciting world of drone piloting for aspiring enthusiasts.

Amazon product
drone training course helipad product

Drone Helipad

One of the biggest fears when flying a new drone is crashing it, but there’s another risk that people often overlook: the takeoff and landing process. From personal experience, I can tell you that the propellers can kick up a lot of stones, dirt, and gravel when you take off and land, which might damage your drone’s camera.

That’s why I always recommend using a drone helipad. Ideally, you should choose one with a metal weighted ring edge or ground pegs for stability. My top recommendation is the AURTEC Universal Drone Landing Pad (32-inch/80cm) with LED Lights, designed specifically for the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

Speaking from experience, you’ll be grateful for the added protection and peace of mind it provides.

This helipad offers a large 32-inch target for landing, making it easier for your drone to return home and land accurately. It’s also designed for smooth landings, with four loops and four stakes to secure it in place and prevent it from being blown away by the wind. The pad is easy to carry, quickly folding down to a compact 12-inch size and fitting into a convenient carry bag.

So, if you want to protect your drone and ensure safe takeoffs and landings, the AURTEC Universal Drone Landing Pad is the way to go. 

 Drone Flight Logbook

Drone Flight Logbook

A Drone Flight Logbook is an essential item for any drone pilot, especially when working towards obtaining your drone license. The UAV Aircraft Logbook by Parhelion Aerospace is specifically designed to cater to UAV owners and operators, making it the ideal choice for maintaining your drone’s records.

This logbook serves as a comprehensive tool to track flight, equipment, and maintenance data for a single aircraft, regardless of the number of pilots operating it. 

The logbook’s compact size makes it easy to carry during flight operations and perfect for long-term use in manned aircraft.

I would avoid getting hardback unless you want extra weight in your backpack.

I can confidently recommend this logbook to anyone looking to enhance their drone equipment collection and ensure a well-documented record of their drone’s usage and maintenance.

Drone pilot high visibility vest

Drone Pilot High Visibility Vest

Investing in a high-visibility (high-vis) vest for drone pilots is an essential step after obtaining your drone license, or even while practising beforehand. Wearing a high-vis vest not only deters curious onlookers from interrupting you but also clearly identifies you as the person in control of the UAV in the area.

A drone pilot’s high-vis vest is a must-have addition to your drone equipment collection.

It helps maintain focus and safety during your flights, as you won’t be distracted by people approaching you. 

In conclusion, whether you are a licensed drone pilot or still honing your flight skills training, a high-visibility vest is a valuable investment for ensuring smooth and uninterrupted your flight skills training sessions.

By prioritising safety and professionalism, you will undoubtedly enhance your overall drone-flying experience.

Step 4 – Dive into Your Comprehensive Drone Course Materials

Now that we’re all geared up with our essential drone equipment, it’s time to move on to the next step in obtaining the GVC. I remember when I enrolled I felt overwhelmed once I received the initial course materials. These materials were incredibly comprehensive, covering all the crucial topics required for the CAA GVC syllabus.

I received these items before the course began:

  • 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

The items I received included a whopping 290-page course booklet, which thoroughly addressed everything from air law and responsibilities to human performance and limitations. 

This extensive resource allowed me to dive deep into the knowledge needed to become a responsible and skilled drone pilot.

drone surveyor

So, as you embark on your own journey towards obtaining your GVC, remember that being well-equipped and well-informed is the key to success in getting your UK drone licence.

Here are the topics covered in the 290-page course booklet:

  • Air Law/Responsibilities
  • UAS Airspace Operating Principles
  • Airmanship and Aviation Safety
  • Human Performance and Limitations (Human Factors)
  • Meteorology
  • Navigation/Charts
  • UAS General Knowledge
  • Operator Responsibilities
  • Operating Procedures

Each topic was covered in-depth and provided a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices necessary for safe and responsible drone operation. 

The course booklet was an essential resource that helped me prepare for the theoretical knowledge exam and provided a valuable reference guide throughout my training.

In addition to the course booklet, I also received 4 mock theoretical GVC exams with 60 questions. This was a really helpful resource for me, as it allowed me to get a sense of what the actual exam would be like and practice answering similar types of questions.

Finally, there was a practical flight exercise booklet that contained a number of manoeuvres to practice. This was a great resource for me as a beginner, as it helped me get a feel for how to handle the drone in different situations and develop my flight skills.

Overall, I was really impressed with the quality and thoroughness of the course materials I received.

They definitely helped me feel more confident and prepared as I worked towards getting my drone license.

Get Started Your Drone Training Today!
Ready to take your drone piloting skills to new heights? Fill out the contact form below. We’ll get back to you promptly to discuss your training needs and help you embark on your exciting drone journey.
drone surveyor

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

Before starting the GVC course to obtain your drone license, there’s a prerequisite you must complete, which involves getting your Flyer ID and Operator ID. The UK government has new legislation that requires all drones over 250 grams to be registered and for drone pilots to pass an online safety test.

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.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you need to do:

1. 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.

2. 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
Operator * Flyer ID Cost

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.

3. Obtain your Flyer ID and Operator ID

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.

Step 6 – 1st Day of GVC Drone Course | Theory and Regulations

Welcome to the first day of the first GVC drone training course, where aspiring drone pilots in the UK embark on their journey towards becoming skilled and responsible drone operators.

On this initial day, training drone pilots are introduced to a wealth of theory and regulations, setting the stage for their future success in the drone industry.

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.

how to become a drone pilot uk

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 (Human Factors)

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.

Drone Theory Test Tip

Remember to revise this section thoroughly to ensure you’re well-prepared for the test and confident in your grasp of regulations and responsibilities as a drone pilot.

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 training course day 2

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).

I quickly discovered that the course I took was designed to be informative and reassuring, helping participants like myself to comprehend and apply the information, even without prior knowledge.

In your Drone license 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.

I can confidently say that this course provides a comprehensive understanding of drone air laws and drone theory and regulations.

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.

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.

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. 

Aeronautical Charts drone pilot training

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. 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.

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 theory test exam

Step 8 – 3rd Day of GVC Drone Course | Theory Test & Operations Manual

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

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

The GVC drone license 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.

During the exam, you’ll need to have your webcam on and show the invigilator around your room to prevent cheating.

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 training course operations manual

Operations Manual

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.

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.

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. 

drone gvc practical flight test

Step 9 – 4th Day of GVC Drone Course | Practical 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. 

We recommend having at least 25hours of drone flying practice before siting this

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.

how to become a drone pilot in the uk

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

Becoming a Fully Licensed Drone Pilot in the UK

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.

Just Want The Quick Facts On Becoming a Drone Pilot in the UK?

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

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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.

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

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

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

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

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

A: 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.

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

A: I cover this in more detail below, but I recommend the following equipment:

Ready to become a Drone Pilot? Read on for the full guide.

how to become a commercial drone pilot in uk

I encourage you to share your own experiences in getting your GVC drone license in the UK. Feel free to leave a comment below, and let’s help each other learn and grow as a community of drone enthusiasts.

Happy flying!

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