Why do I need a Commercial Drone License?

There are three main benefits to gaining the standard CAA Permission or more commonly known as the Commercial Drone License:


First of all, in practical terms you will be able to advertise a legal commercial service and receive payment for performing your service, usually in the provision of aerial filming and photography. This is known as 'Commercial Operations' which is defined as; 

Any purpose, other than commercial air transport or public transport, for which an aircraft is flown if valuable consideration is given or promised for the flight or the purpose of the flight. 
The type of flying doesn't involve flying paying passengers or transporting mail or other cargo.


ANO Articles 95 and 95 set strict limits of where camera-equipped drones can fly. Probably the most limiting of these in terms of earning potential and the type of jobs you can do, is the requirement for the drone not be flown "over or within 150 metres of any congested area".

A congested area, in relation to a city, town or settlement, means any area which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.

It is clear that you would then be limited almost exclusively to rural areas, however the operator must determine if this is the case prior to conducting operations. The CAA cannot advise in this capacity. 

The Standard CAA Permission recognises this difficulty and gives an automatic concession to dispense with this rule if the drone does not have a Maximum Take-Off Mass (MTOM) of more than 7kg (excluding fuel - but including batteries). In this case, although the drone may be flown within congested areas, the pilot must still comply with the following conditions:

a) No flight over or within 50 metres of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure that is not 'under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft', except that during take-off and landing this distance may be reduced to 30 metres;
b) No flight over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;


Insurance specifically for aircraft operators is a requirement of Regulation (EC) 785/2004 'Insurance for air carriers and aircraft operators'. Whilst this regulation states that insurance is not required for 'model aircraft with an MTOM of less than 20kg, the CAA does not regard drones being used for aerial work as 'model aircraft' i.e. they are not scale models or other unmanned aircraft being used purely for recreation. Having this insurance cover is an important part of covering any liability in the event of injury or damage to a third-party (along with your normal Public Liability insurance). Many insurance providers require evidence of your competency as a pilot i.e. you are qualified for a CAA permission or have already had CAA permission granted, before they will extend insurance cover at a nominal rate. 

It should be borne in mind that insurance to cover any liability in respect of third parties is likely to be invalid if the drone was flown at a location or for a purpose that was not deemed to be legally compliant with the Air Navigation Order (ANO). 


Thanks for taking the time to read this and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Are you ready to take the next step towards your future? Ready to turn your drone hobby in to a career? Aerial Motion Pictures is home of the UK's First Independent Drone Training School Fly ICARUS.

Want to find a drone training course near you? Click here to find your nearest course.


[Disclaimer] This information is correct as of May 2017 - Aerial Motion Picture Ltd.