Become a professional CAA approved UAV & drone operator with the UK's Leading Training Provider


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Why do I need a Permission for Commercial Operation?

Short answer - it is legally required for commercial drone flights.

The longer answer...

If you plan to fly your drone for yours or someone else's commercial gain, you need a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) from the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Or another way to put it is, if you or someone stands to benefit financially or in kind from the flight, you need to prove you are competent and insured - which can legally only be done through a PfCO.

The PfCO is evidence that you have insurance, and learnt and passed assessments on relevant air regulation, safety, and flight competence - so you know what you should and shouldn't be doing. Flying for commercial gain without a PfCO, as well as breaking any of the regulations set out in the CAA's CAP393, is illegal and dealt with by the police.

This applies to everybody, across every business, and with every aircraft, such as:

  • A photographer wishing to take aerial landscape and wedding photos with a DJI Phantom 4, to sell as prints
  • A surveyor wishing to inspect high structures for damage with an AscTec Falcon 8, as part of their report
  • An estate agent wishing to take aerial property photos with a 3DR Solo, to use in marketing
  • An emergency service wishing to use a DJI Inspire 1 with thermal imaging, for surveillance or fire monitoring
  • It sounds pretty scary, but we promise it isn't!

    It's now even easier to gain your PfAW by attending one of our renowned ICARUS courses across the UK. You'll be taught all you need to know, and more, by our expert instructors. Our course was developed by a former military helicopter pilot, and is the only syllabus to include extra crucial information on the UK military Low Flying System, and LiPo battery safety. We are also one of very few courses where you can complete the theory and practical elements from the same convenient location.

    We're committed to developing you into more than just a safe operator, by guiding you through this niche industry's best practises to becoming a respected operator and successful business too. Our range of additional courses, from night approval to photography, can ensure you stay ahead of the competition by continually developing your skills and business.

    We pride ourselves on giving the best experience and service, and consciously keep classes small so we can get to know each of our students and their needs and ambitions as best as possible. When you take our course, you become part of the family.

    Read on to learn more about what the ICARUS course involves, and book your place at one of our centres. If you have any questions, don't hesistate to get in touch at or call us on 0845 450 9300.

    Click here for the longer answer. Click here for the longer answer.

    Why choose ICARUS?

    We will guide you every step of the way on the path to gaining your CAA Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) and believe we deliver the best training the money can buy.

    All ICARUS training has been compiled by former military pilots and is delivered by experienced operators or military aircrew, but don't just take our word for it, check out what some of our latest ICARUS Candidates think of their training...

    The Route to PfCO (formerly PfAW)

    The Ground School

    Below is an outline of the ICARUS Theory Course syllabus; it shows the lessons you will undertake in order to learn the required information to be a competent and safe commercial operator. The theory course culminates with a multiple choice examination of 50 questions. The pass mark for the exam is 80% – but do not be phased by this! We will ensure that you have the required knowledge to pass the exam by the time you come to sit it.

    Day 1

    9am - 5pm

    • Intro & Air Law
    • Principles of Flight
    • Meteorology
    • Airspace & Operating Principles
    • Ops Manual & Risk Assessment

    Day 2

    9am - 6pm

    • Human Factors
    • Operator Responsibilities & Airmanship
    • Navigation
    • Flight Planning
    • Li-Po Batteries & UKLFS
    • Revision/Exam

    If you would like to find out more about the course, in detail, go to BLOG PAGE to read our 

    FLY ICARUS Course Testimonial by ICARUS Ambassador Adam Blackmore-Heal

    Operations Manual Submission & Review

    The second phase of the ICARUS Course is the completion of your Operations Manual - a legal requirement by the CAA. Basically it is one big risk assessment.

    There are many horror stories out there when it comes to writing Operations Manuals but fear not, we are here to help you every step of the way. We will expose you to the CAA Operations Manual Template which is a good place to start. You are more than welcome to view our manual too whilst you are on the course to get a good idea of the level at which to pitch your document. Remember, your Operations Manual is there to help you and should only contain information which is relevant to YOUR operations. We will not ask you for obscure or irrelevant information which can turn the production of your Operations Manual into a nightmare; unlike some of our competitors!

    Key Points
    Vital to obtain a PfCO.
    Fly ICARUS will help you.
    Or purchase from
    Open Sky Consulting.

    The Operational Evaluation

    The final phase of the ICARUS course will take the form of a client request for aerial work on a mutually convenient date. We will send you a request, much the same as that which you will likely receive from someone once you have your PfCO. It will then be over to you to use all of the tools and techniques you learned on the theory course. You will need to plan, execute and de-brief the task safely whilst remaining within the rules and regulations laid down by the CAA.

    During the Operational Evaluation, you should expect a couple of emergencies to be given to you at some point by the examiner and you will need to demonstrate that you are reasonably comfortable flying your aircraft in ‘ATTI’ mode.

    Finally, upon successful completion of your Operational Evaluation, your ICARUS Examiner will complete the required paperwork to recommend the issue of a PfCO to you by the CAA!

    Key Points
    You will receive a job request.
    Plan it as if it were real.
    Fully brief the examiner.
    Fly your aircraft in GPS & ATTI.
    Be prepared for 'emergencies'.



    ICARUS full course
    Theory & Practical


    Safety Accessories
    Fee to CAA

    ICARUS Theory Ground School Course.
    Theory Examination.
    ICARUS Operational Evaluation (Practical Exam).
    Recommendation to CAA for issue of a PfCO.
    Lunches & refreshments during Ground School.
    One free theory examination re-sit if required.

    Pens & paper etc. will be provided.
    Free WiFi is available.
    Free parking is available.
    Accommodation & transport are not included, however recommendations will be provided in joining instructions.

    ICARUS Theory Course only


    Includes all above, except Operational Evaluation (OE).
    You will be required to conduct an Operational Evaluation with a CAA Approved NQE, such as ourselves, prior to being issued with a recommendation for the award of a PfCO.

    ICARUS Operational Evaluation only


    For candidates who hold a valid theory certificate from another CAA-approved NQE in the UK. This evaluation will complete the PfCO application process.

    Candidates who wish to use this route to complete their PfCO application will be expected to deliver the same standard of planning, briefing and execution as those who attended the ICARUS Theory Course. A bespoke Top-Up Theory Course is recommended. Please contact us for further details.

    Click on the ICARUS PRO Banner to see more information about our BRAND NEW Aerial Expert Professional Course. 


    Upcoming ICARUS Courses

    £999 inc. VAT


    Stables 3, Howbery Park,
    Wallingford, OX10 8BA

    25 - 27 September ICARUS PRO/STANDARD

    9 - 10 (11) October ICARUS PRO/Standard

    30 - 31 (1) November ICARUS PRO/Standard

    13 - 14 (15) November ICARUS PRO/Standard

    27 - 28 (29) November ICARUS PRO/Standard

    11 - 12 (13) December ICARUS PRO/Standard

    15 - 16 (17) January ICARUS PRO/Standard

    29 - 30 (31) January ICARUS PRO/Standard

    12 - 13 (14) February ICARUS PRO/Standard

    26 - 27 (28) February ICARUS PRO/Standard







    Haughton Hall Hotel and Leisure Club, Haughton Lane, Shifnal, Shropshire, TF11 8HG

    16 - 17 October

    20 - 21 November



    Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG

    Dates to be confirmed



    Dalziel Park Hotel and Golf Club, 100 Hagen Dr, Motherwell, ML1 5RZ

    2 - 4 October ICARUS PRO/Standard



    Shaw Hill Golf Resort and Spa Hotel, Near Buckshaw, Chorley, Lancashire, PR6 7PP

    2 - 3 (4) October ICARUS PRO/Standard

    6 - 7 November

    4 - 5 December

    8 - 9 January

    5 - 6 February


    Complete Training Solutions Unit 12 Glacier Buildings Brunswick Business Park Liverpool L3 4BH







    Click on the ICARUS PRO Banner to see more information about our BRAND NEW Aerial Expert Professional Course. 

    Please scroll down to book

    Booking your ICARUS course is simple

    If you have not already, read up on the ICARUS course contentspricinglocations and dates.

    When you are ready to book, choose your preferred course from the options below and press Book Now to begin the payment process.


    Alternatively you can contact our friendly team and we will guide you through the booking process.


    For pilots with a current PPL, CPL, microlight or gliding qualification, military experience, or equivalent listed under CAP722 page 47 (check here), we offer a one day top up lesson instead of our full ICARUS course. There is no theory exam but you will be required to provide an Operations Manual and perform an Operational Evaluation with your unmanned aircraft at a later date, like other ICARUS students.

    Learn more about and book this Top Up Course by clicking here.

    Find more frequently asked questions here

    How to Book

    Click on one of the options below to learn more about and book a particular course.

    Alternatively you can contact us and we will guide you through the process.