PfCO lives on under an Operational Authorisation from 1 July 2020

December 12, 2019

From 1st July 2020, the CAA is adopting the new EU regulations regarding unmanned aircraft.


By May 2020, the CAA will issue a new CAP 722 with brand new PDRAs (Pre-defined Risk Assessments). The current Standard Permissions (formerly known as Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO)) will be converted into a PDRA that will sit as part of an Operational Authorisation.

long live the pfco

What does this mean for me with a current PfCO?

If you hold a PfCO and it expires after 1st July 2020 you can continue to operate as normal within the bounds of your current PfCO. When you renew after 1st July 2020 the PfCO will become an Operational Authorisation and you will be granted the same Standard Permissions as before.



Should I renew my PfCO before 1st July 2020?

If you currently fly what we will start to call 'Legacy Aircraft', so any aircraft that was put onto the market before 1st July 2022 and doesn't have any classification of aircraft (C0-C4) then, if you want to keep your Standard Permissions formerly granted under the PfCO you are best renewing.


So for example, if your PfCO expires and you renew it on 20th June 2020 you will still get your PfCO again for 12 months. When it expires again on 20th June 2021 you can renew it and it will come through as an Operational Authorisation with a UK PDRA with current Standard Permissions, so again you can carry on as prior by making sure your Remote Pilot Competency is kept (2 hours of logged flights in the last 3 months) and update your Operations Manual.



What should I do?

You can use our helpful flowchart to determine what your best course of action is.




I'm on a PfCO course now, or I'm booked onto a course, should I still do it?

Getting Standard Permissions will stand you in good stead, especially during the transitionary period as currently there are NO aircraft on the market with a C0-C4 rating. You will still be able to fly your 'Legacy aircraft' such as a DJI Mavic 2 or DJI Inspire 2 under Standard Permissions if you have a PfCO that expires after 1st July 2020.


When your PfCO expires after 1st July 2020 you will be able to renew your permissions and it will be and it will come through as an Operational Authorisation with a UK PDRA with current Standard Permissions, so again you can carry on as prior by making sure you Remote Pilot Competency is kept (2 hours of logged flights in the last 3 months) and update your Operations Manual.



Should I still book onto a PfCO course before 1st July 2020

Deciding on if you want to book and get a PfCO before the 1st July 2020 is down to you.


If you want to fly commercially between now and 1st July 2020 the only way to do so is with a PfCO. Getting a PfCO before 1st July 2020 will mean that after this date you will still be able to fly any 'Legacy aircraft' under Standard Permissions, in congested areas for as long as you keep renewing your permissions.


If you currently have something like a DJI Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4, Inspire 2 etc having Standard Permissions under the new regulations will mean you have to maintain a 30m separation distance on take-off and landing and then 50m when in flight.


The PfCO and Standard Permission is for at least the next 2 years the way to operate your 'legacy' drones within congested areas.



PfCO to A2 CofC for ICARUS Students

From today, anyone book onto our ICARUS PfCO Drone courses will get the chance to do their A2 CofC certification as soon as they can from 1st July 2020.


We will put in place a 'top-up' (to be confirmed) for people who are currently doing their PfCO course (eg. waiting to do their Flight test). We will also put in place a reduced rate for our ICARUS Alumni (costs to be confirmed).


We understand there may be some confusion within the transitionary period and we will do our best to help with the process.




If you still want to operate the drones you own between now and 1st July 2020 within congested areas you will need the PfCO. In most circumstances, after 1st July 2020, the Standard Permissions granted through the PfCO will still be beneficial for 'legacy aircraft' such as the DJI Mavic and DJI Inspire series of aircraft.


Until certified aircraft with a C0-C4 rating hit the market there will be a transitional process. The idea is that most 'legacy aircraft' after 1st July 2022 will no longer be used by most operators as they will likely have a certified aircraft by that point.


We'll keep you updated with more blogs and videos to try and help explain the process.


More to come!