Commercial UAV Pilot Training

Purpose built training centre

CAA National Qualified Entity

For small businesses

large enterprises and other organisations

Welcome to The UAV Academy

The UAV Academy is a CAA full National Qualified Entity (NQE) approved by the CAA to train and assess pilots of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) up to 20kg. We are here to help put you on your path to safe and rewarding commercial drone operations. The syllabus for this training is set by the CAA. Successful completion of our course culminates in our recommendation to the CAA for you to be issued with a Permission For Commercial Operations (PfCO).

UAV Academy Instructors and Examiners are all highly experienced commercial UAV operators and skilled remote pilots. Our background as professional operators has enabled us to develop and deliver training tailored to new commercial UAV pilots. We will not overload you with material which, whilst interesting, is only relevant to manned aviation. You will learn from our experiences (good and bad) and graduate from the CDP-C™ course with the skills, knowledge and processes you need to confidently and safely operate a UAV commercially.


National Qualified Entity

Man flying a drone holding a control transmitter

What We Offer

Our CDP-C™ course consists of the highest quality online learning, two days of classroom training (Ground School), full support for the creation of your Operations Manual, and a practical Flight Operations Assessment including one hour of free flight instruction prior to your Assessment. We run Ground Schools at several locations in England and Northern Ireland and have seven flight training and assessment centres.  The purpose-built UAV Academy Training Centre, located in the control tower at Cotswold Airport, sets a very high standard and is a fantastic place to learn.

When you undertake your Flight Operations Assessment we provide up to an hour of  flight instruction prior to you doing your Assessment.  If you need more than this, we offer flight training ranging from basic flying skills right through to advanced skills training for professional pilots wanting to be able to deliver exceptional results to their customers. We havein Flight instructors located around the UK who are able to provide training using either our own drones or yours. Call us and ask about a convenient date and location that suits you.

If you hold a UK pilots license you are able to take advantage of our abbreviated course to gain your CDP-C™ and PfCO. You are exmpt from havingto attend the Ground School and take the theory examination. You will be expected to complete the Online Learning course and read the Course Handbook however, as there will be some elements of the theory course which you are unlikely to be familiar with as a manned pilot.

We are able to tailor our PfCO training course to meet the needs of individual organisations or types of operation. Training may be delivered in-house and can reflect the specific needs of the organisation and its UAV pilots. Call our helpful team, we’d be delighted to discuss a package that works for you.

The PfCO Process

Pre-Course Learning

When you enrol on the CDP-C™ course we send you a high quality printed Course Handbook and give you access our Online Learning System.  You will be expected to complete all the online courses and read the Course Handbook before you attend the Ground School. The more you can study before you arrive for your Ground School the easier and more enjoyable you will find your time with us in the classroom.

Ground school

You will spend two days in a classroom with one of our highly experienced instructors. The syllabus for the Ground School is set by the CAA and they require you to have a good knowledge of all the subjects as this is considered essential to ensuring safe UAV operations complying with CAA regulations. We aim to provide the knowledge you need in both an enthusiastic and engaging way. At the end of the Ground School, you will sit a Multiple Choice Examination.

Operations Manual

The Operations Manual is a very important document,  so it is crucial that it is well-written and you must understand and be entirely familiar with its contents.  The CAA have published an Operations Manual template and this is a great place to start, as it sets out the document structure they expect to see and provides useful guidance notes. However, the CAA template provides very little actual content, so it requires for you to write the content and this takes time and can be a little daunting if you are not used to this sort of document. For this reason, we provide, as part of the CDC-P™ course, and Enhanced Template which as the starting point for creating your own Operations Manual. We also offer an optional one day Operations Manual Workshop where we take you through the Operations Manual in detail to ensure that you fully understand the current CAA requirements for each section of your Manual. 

Flight Operations Assessment

Everything you have learnt on Ground School and the procedures you set out in your Operations Manual come to together for the last part of the course which is a Flight Operations Assessment (FOA). This takes place at a location convenient to you and on a date you agree with your examiner. The FOA will take the form of an imaginary client request for Aerial Work. We will send you a client brief, with details about the location and what you are being asked to do. You will need to demonstrate to the Examiner that you are capable of operating using the procedures set out in your Operations Manual and that you, as Pilot-in-Command, have the flying skills necessary to conduct the flight competently and safely whilst operating within the rules and regulations laid down by the CAA. On successful completion of your FOA we help you to complete your application to the CAA for a PfCO and we submit all documents to the CAA on your behalf together with our Recommendation.

Relative Time Required

  • Pre-Course Study
  • Ground School
  • Operations Manual
  • Flight Operations Assessment

Next Ground Schools

Cotswold Airport and Belfast

26th & 27th September








What our customers say

There are many companies in the UK offering training for the PfCO qualification to allow the use of drones for commercial use, so how do you decide which of these companies to trust your development to?
With UAV Academy my experience from the very first contact has been outstanding. Andrew took time to talk through the PfCO course with me in great detail, answered any of my questions and confirmed it was the right course for me. The quality of the printed training materials supplied, combined with simple to use online learning allowed me to prepare well in advance of the classroom learning.
My trainer was fantastic. Not only did he ensure the syllabus was delivered comprehensively, he was able to apply the learning to real world examples which really will improve my safety and also how I can maximise the commercial value of my PfCO and drone equipment. Exceptional learning delivered with care and personal service. 5 stars UAV Academy, thank you.

Rob Oldland

If you are looking at getting into the drone industry on a commercial basis, I would highly recommend these guys….Friendly, informative and really helpful, from start to finish of the course!!! Mark Green

Green Energy Consultants

See more of what our customers have to say about us on our Testimonial Page

Excellent.. a totally enjoyable course, which was very interesting and informative. The staff were more than helpful, and keen to assist at all stages…. I highly recommend UAV Academy, and to be totally honest, I can not think of anything you should change!… Probably the best training course I have attended in my 31 year career…. Thank you Mark Dobson

Alpine Surveys

I’m able to compare your service with one of your competitors and your service was far superior. Your course handbook was great and I was not overloaded with useless PDF’s to print out myself. Your competitors notes were not as detailed as yours; yours were more to the point. Having the option to take my practical examination at multiple destinations including one just 7 miles away from me was a huge benefit. You have surpassed my expectations of what I expected, thank you. Jon Nash

Jon Nash Photography

First rate groundschool course and as an ATPL(H) holder, I have something to compare it to! (I could have got a CAA exemption, but it was quicker and simpler just to do the course). Great online and offline study materials, and a very experienced instructor. 100% recommended. Denis Thornton

Many thanks to the team at The UAV Academy for a fantastic course. Fantastic staff. World class knowledge and a very friendly atmosphere would highly recommend Chris Emsley


Professionals from the outset. I recommend UAV Academy to anyone who wants a thorough and extensive training in UAV Operations Ed Robinson

OneRedEye Visual Communications

The best course I have ever been on Trevor Fields

TGF Photography

I highly recommend Andrew Bailey and The UAV Academy for their excellence in professional standards and quality of training, and for their fantastic support throughout the entire process of gaining CAA Approval and PfCO. I did advanced flight skills training and my flight operations assessment with Andrew – I learned a lot and enjoyed every moment. Andrew is a true gent – friendly, supportive, empathetic, a great teacher and communicator, highly skilled, knowledgeable and honest. Do not hesitate to train and qualify with The UAV Academy. Jason Flock

3Drone Ltd

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that gaining your Commercial Drone Qualification and a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) is a serious undertaking. You will be investing a significant amount of both money and time, so we feel it is very important that you fully understand the process, the options and what will be required of you.

On the right you will see a few of the most common questions we are asked. If you have any other questions please contact us by phone on 01285 610038, by email to, or via our Facebook Page. We love to talk with our customers, so please get in touch.

Why do I need a commercial drone pilots licence?
If you are only going to be flying your drone for fun then you do not need a license, or more accurately a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO). However, if you intend to use your drone for any sort of commercial purpose then you need to have a PfCO otherwise you will be breaking the law.
How long does it take?
This depends entirely upon the level of experience you already have. If you have never flown a drone before you will need to develop the necessary skills to be able to fly safely before you will be granted a PfCO. We have had a few people complete the course within a week, but most take around 4 to 6 weeks.
Can you train me to fly?

The CAA do not require for you to have any flight instruction. They rely on our assessment of your knowledge and skills. However, we include one hour of flight instruction immediately before you do your Flight Operations Assessment. We also recommend that you book at least half a day of additional flight instruction with one of our Instructors. This will give you the basic skills and a good framework for self-training. The Instructor will make sure that you understand what will be expected of you when you do your Flight Operations Assessment.

Does my CDP-C™ qualification need to be renewed?

The CDP-C™ qualification awarded to you on successful completion of the course does not expire, so it is life-long. The UK CAA does have a pilot currency minimum and requires you to provide logbook evidence of 2 hours drone flying time in the last three months for each pilot when you submit your application to renew your Permission for Commercial Operations.