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PfCO Training Announcement

PfCO Training Announcement

Gareth Beverley
PfCO Training Announcement

Firstly thank you for putting your trust in Consortiq (UAVAir) to train you and guide you through the PfCO process. We know it is complicated and can be arduous to complete. Especially when it feels like the goal posts keep moving and you’re constantly on the back foot regarding changes to the regulations. 

The upcoming changes in July to attempt to harmonise European drone regulations are a huge overhaul and complicate things even more. 

‘The PfCO is dead, long live the A1, A2, A2 CofC and GVC’ 

I know Consortiq has been conspicuously silent regarding our plans for these changes, aside from emails to some customers who need to finish their training, where we managed to make it sound like we were going out of business. 

To address that point, Consortiq isn’t going anywhere, we are transitioning from an NQE to an RAE (Recognised Assessment Entity) and will continue to offer the high quality training we always have. The way we offer this service is going to change, we’re currently working through the detail which takes time. Once this is complete, we’ll let you know what the new training looks like and we’ll be better able to advise our alumni on how to transition to the new regulations.

This is what we do know and these are the steps that our candidates need to take:

New Regulations

The regulations for operating drones in the UK are changing on 1st July 2020. Consortiq will not be running courses, examinations or flight assessments past 10th March 2020.

In December 2019 we attended a meeting for NQEs hosted by the CAA, where we were briefed on the upcoming changes to the regulations. That meeting formed the basis of this page. Since this meeting our candidates have received updated and in some cases different information to what we were briefed. We’ll endevour to correct this page as we learn more. 

The term ‘Commercial Operations’ will cease and instead your operation will be broken down in to pieces; Category of Aircraft; Competence of Remote Pilot; and Location of Flight/Proximity to People. It’s important to note that any person that has a PfCO right now will transfer to an ‘Operational Authorisation’ (OA) when their PfCO is renewed. At the time of writing there is no indication that any further training or assessments will be required for PfCO holders.

Therefore all the criteria above apply regardless of whether the operation is for commercial purposes or not. The pieces have different assessment criteria depending on the risk, ranging from an online test for low risk operations to an in-person exam, OM review, and Flight Assessment for high risk operations.

This means that the current system cannot exist beyond 1st July 2020 and that customers who want to get an initial PfCO must complete their application by 21st May 2020. This date is based on the CAA’s agreed processing time of 28 working days, though this is by no means guaranteed. 

You can apply directly under the new categories, and skip the PfCO altogether but this will likely result in more work for you and so we don’t recommend it.

If you already have a PfCO, read this:

Your PfCO will still stand until you need to renew it, at that point you will need to decide where you sit in the category system. 

Consortiq will be offering training and assessments to meet these new categories. It is unlikely as a PfCO holder that you will need to start from scratch, but a ‘conversion course’ may be required. We are still working through the details of what that looks like.

If you haven’t completed your PfCO application yet, read this:

We (and the CAA) still encourage you to complete this process. If you get your PfCO issued before the 1st July you will be able to operate under the enhanced conditions that a PfCO gives you for a year from renewal. If you miss the deadline, you will have to submit an application under one of the new categories, and we do not know if your theory, flight planning and flight assessment results will be applicable, this could mean a lot more work for you.

What does this mean for you?

  • The UAQ course from UAVAir is finishing on 10th March 2020
  • You must have completed your examinations (Theory, Flight Planning and Flight Assessment) by 10th March 2020. Call the booking line below to request your examination locations & dates.
  • You must have completed your Operations Manual and had it approved by us by 14th May 2020.
  • You should have submitted your application for a PfCO to the CAA before the 21st May 2020 to receive a PfCO in its current form*.
  • PfCOs will not be issued by the CAA from the 1st July 2020.
  • If you are yet to complete your ground school you don’t need to do anything, but the deadlines for completion and application still apply. 

*Note: This is wholly dependent on the CAA processing the application by the 30th June allowing for their current agreement of 28 working days

Unfortunately, we can not control the admin process or the SLA’s that the CAA follow and they can take up-to 28 working days to get your permission to you. Hopefully you can see now why we are stopping the existing training so early. 

If you started your training with us over 12 months ago, unfortunately there will be further charges to complete your course. Theory exam retakes are still free, however the Flight Assessment is £215 +VAT, and access to the Operations Manual template plus the reviews to get it approved is an additional £299 +VAT. 

Booking a place to finalise your qualification can only be made by leaving a message via our dedicated booking line on: 

020 39402545

Please leave your name, telephone number, which elements of the course you are looking to complete, and your preferred venue and date from the below list. One of the Assessment Booking Team will call you back to confirm your booking and take any payments required. Leaving a message on this number is NOT a confirmed booking until you have received a confirmation email. We aim to confirm your booking within 4 working days.

Dates and Venues

In summary

  • Consortiq is still going to offer training as an RAE. We’re not going anywhere.
  • The PfCO won't exist after 1st July 2020, and the new system is more complicated
  • Existing PfCO holders will have their PfCO transferred to an Operational Authorisation (OA) by the CAA at renewal.
  • Get your PfCO application in by 21st May or it’s highly unlikely you’ll get your PfCO and you’ll have a lot more work to do.
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