Preparing Your PfCO Operations Manual

Last updated on

November 2, 2017


As a qualified NQE, COPTRZ provides specialist training to enable drone pilots to obtain their permission for commercial operations (PfCO). The process of applying for your PfCO involves three key areas; a theory assessment, flight assessment and an operations manual submission to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Submitting drone flight operations manual to the CAA is a vital part of your application. It essentially outlines how you are going to use your drone commercially and what safety measures you will have in place during commercial operations. The operations manual is specific to your business, therefore the CAA require it to be completed by you as the pilot in command. It cannot be completed by anyone else, however, it should be reviewed by an operations manual expert. COPTRZ provide this service as part of your CAA PfCO Training Course.

Completing your operations manual right the first time is important to ensure you get your PfCO as quickly as possible. Follow our tips below to ensure you get yours right the first time around.

What do I Include in my PfCO Operations Manual?

There are 4 main sections in the operations manual which will need to be completed specifically for your drone business. When you complete a COPTRZ CAA PfCO Training Course, you will receive an in-depth operations manual template that has been designed to make the process of completion as easy as possible.

Section 1 – Introduction

The primary aim of section 1 is to provide an introduction to your business. You should document specific types of activities that you will undertake with your drone, along with the usual locations that will be operating in. (although don’t be too specific to ensure you don’t limit your operations)

You will be asked to provide an overarching strategy for your business for the next 5 years (circa. 100 words). It’s important that you don’t limit yourself in this section. You should include any drone operations that you may be willing to do in the first 5 years even if they are not in your immediate plans. For example, adding drone inspection work to your services even if you’re not operating in this field from the outset.

Section 2 – Safety Policy

Section 2 is all about the safety procedures you will be in place when operating your UAV. You will be asked to document that you have implemented a full safety management system to ensure a safe environment during your drone operations.

Section 3 – Organisation

As the title suggests, section 3 is all about your organisation. Most importantly, in section 3 you will be required to supply your qualification number. This is unique to you and will be provided by the NQE that you choose to train with.

You will also be asked to provide more specific information about your business structure, including details of any people with a vested interest and any nominated personnel (additional pilots, observers, payload operators etc.) Be sure to outline the responsibilities of each person and how they will work together under different operations.

Make note of the relevant log books that you will maintain on a daily basis, including Aircraft and Pilot Operating Hours, Battery Charge, Aircraft Maintenance, Incident logs.

Section 4 – Operations

In section 4 you will be required to go into more depth about your day-to-day operations on the job. You should include you pre-job risk assessment procedures and methods on contacting relevant people and landowners that may be affected by your drone operations. It is also important to make note of the pre-flight safety checks that you will adhere to.

At the end of section 4, you will be required to attach a number of documents including your CAA permission, UAV specifications and hours of flight time logged for each pilot.

Assistance with your Operations Manual

The operations manual can be a tough task to complete if your chosen NQE doesn’t provide any additional support alongside your training. – Be sure to check that your CAA PfCO Training Course comes with a thorough ops manual walk-through to ensure you get it right on the first attempt. False submissions to the CAA can take up to 28 days to return for amends, leaving you with a lengthy delay in receiving your permissions.

Book on to a COPTRZ CAA PfCO Training Course and you will receive a full day operations manual walk-through as part of your course. This is delivered by our trainers on the third day of the course. Upon completion, you will also receive additional support including a full operations manual review by the COPTRZ team, prior to submission to the CAA.

In addition to your NQE Recommendation, COPTRZ can also separately provide you with an academically registered qualification under OFQUAL (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) as a Level 4 award. That means if you choose COPTRZ as your NQE, you’ll have the option to receive a vocational Level 4 award recognised across the board by employers in many sectors. This represents a standard between an A Level and a degree (ONC/HNC level). This qualification is an additional extra.

Contact us or call 0330 111 7177 to find out more about how we can help you through your operations manual.

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