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New EASA rules and regulations

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I'm thinking I'm a bit late to the party with this one but this has big implications for anyone who is a PFCO holder....

If I'm understanding this correctly, from July 2020 in the UK as long as you've passed the online test and registered your drone's, there will be no difference between a hobby flyer and a commercial operator? Looks like I may have wasted my £1,500 back in 2015 getting my PFCO! Everyone has to take the same test, whether a hobby or commercial flyer, so any flight could be either commercial or hobby.

Also, in the meantime, the CAA are proposing a £124 fine for every PFCO application or renewal that does not reach the required standard.
 
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You'll have to wait til all the jigsaw pieces hopefully come together to give a clearer picture, time will tell. The PFCO has been made a mockery of with well known dealers offering it at very low prices.
 
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FlushVision

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I've been looking at that too. And if it pans out as 'ikopter' says: That there will be no distinction between hobby and commercial flyers, I will have to take stock of where I go.

For a long time I've had a gripe about hobby flyers taking paid work from legitimate commercial operators, to the point that I very nearly chucked it all in last year. I just couldn't compete with people doing jobs dirt cheep or even for free since I still had to cover my overheads...insurance, cost of PfCO renewals, proper aircraft maintenance, etc. I heard an argument that if you are good at what you do then you can still command a good rate of pay and compete against the illegals (ikopter mentions this), but when it comes to drone work I don't think that argument is fully valid: Most prosumer level drones have cameras that can do most of the work for you in 'auto' mode so a novice can still take a half decent picture or video without actually knowing much about photography.

This doesn't effect me as much as it used to since I now do regular work for a news media company who pay a good rate for my images...without that work, though, I would not have renewed my PfCO last time around. However, I'll wait to see how these new regulations pan out: There seems to be a distinction of areas of operations...PfCO exemptions to the ANO could still make it worthwhile to have one.
 
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Mentions member states, which we may not be. Will they adopt the rules, or will other problems me more pressing, ie Brexit and it's nonsense?
Yes, it will be adopted by the UK. We, as you say will have left the EU by next year but aviation rules and regulations will be adopted Europe wide and in aviation terms, we will still be classed as Europe.

As for the ANO and congested area flying which is proposed under these new regulations, it appears all you will have to do is take the test that pertains to flying in those areas. As is explained in the YT video, the airspace will be split into 3 categories and you take the test pertaining to which category of airspace you want to fly in.

I could see all this coming really. With PFCO's now being offered on-line for as little as £400, it was starting to look like the writing was on the wall for the PFCO. As has been mentioned, we will have to wait and see exactly how it all pans out. I think it will blur the lines between what is considered commercial and what is recreational. As far as I can tell, anyone could make a perfectly legal recreational flight under these new proposals and sell that footage at a later date should anyone be interested in buying it and that would be perfectly legal to do. Where all this leaves public liability insurance I don't know. But it is interesting that when renewing your PFCO now, you don't have to prove your insurance arrangements, you just have to prove you have insurance should you be asked whilst out performing an operation. So, Anyone could (under these new proposals) perform a recreational flight, in say congested area, without insurance and later sell that footage and that would be legal? That's how I'm understanding it anyway.....
 

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...But it is interesting that when renewing your PFCO now, you don't have to prove your insurance arrangements, you just have to prove you have insurance should you be asked whilst out performing an operation...
really? If that is the case then things are changing quickly. When I renewed back in April I had to have insurance in place.

If all we have to do is take an on-line test to fly in a congested area, then I see little point of renewing my PfCO again come next April, since currently the only real benefit to me having a PfCO (apart from being able to sell my images) is the PfCO exemptions to the ANO regarding being able to operate in congested areas.
 
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The proposed regs will require pilots to register and pass an online competency test. I'm unclear how a newcomer will be able to pass the test. Unless of course, they have illegally been flying or the test isn't really a test of competency and is just a test of knowledge of the regs.
 
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really? If that is the case then things are changing quickly. When I renewed back in April I had to have insurance in place.
Indeed. You don't have to mention your insurance arrangements in your PFCO application anymore. But, you will still have to prove you have insurance if you are: either asked by the CAA or challenged whilst out performing a commercial operation by any authority that has the right to ask you. This is where the lines will blur under the new proposed regulations. Because a recreational remote pilot could perform exactly the same operation without insurance. But they would have to take the same on-line test as a commercial operator. And as a recreational remote pilot, they would be allowed to sell their content at a later date. So it begs the question...... Why would anyone bother with insurance? If I was challenged whilst performing an operation, I'd just say it's a recreational flight, I don't need insurance, who would know? I also don't know what will happen to the operations manual? The way everything is being worded, it sounds like you won't need to have one? Again, everyone is going to have to take the same test, whether a commercial or recreational remote pilot. There is going to be no differential between the two. As long as you've passed the test that pertains to the area where you intend to fly, a commercial and recreational remote pilot will be able to fly in exactly the same airspace...... And the current 50 metre limit under the new proposals is going to be reduced to 5 metres, whether you are a commercial or recreational remote pilot! So yes, what is the point of the PFCO anymore?
 
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The proposed regs will require pilots to register and pass an online competency test. I'm unclear how a newcomer will be able to pass the test. Unless of course, they have illegally been flying or the test isn't really a test of competency and is just a test of knowledge of the regs.
The test is not going to include a flight competence element. For areas that are not considered congested, think something that resembles the present drone-code. And for areas that are considered congested, think something that might resemble the present PFCO multi choice exam. I'm guessing at this but it seems reasonable that this is how it could be?
 

FlushVision

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Indeed. You don't have to mention your insurance arrangements in your PFCO application anymore. But, you will still have to prove you have insurance if you are: either asked by the CAA or challenged whilst out performing a commercial operation by any authority that has the right to ask you. This is where the lines will blur under the new proposed regulations. Because a recreational remote pilot could perform exactly the same operation without insurance. But they would have to take the same on-line test as a commercial operator. And as a recreational remote pilot, they would be allowed to sell their content at a later date. So it begs the question...... Why would anyone bother with insurance? If I was challenged whilst performing an operation, I'd just say it's a recreational flight, I don't need insurance, who would know? I also don't know what will happen to the operations manual? The way everything is being worded, it sounds like you won't need to have one? Again, everyone is going to have to take the same test, whether a commercial or recreational remote pilot. There is going to be no differential between the two. As long as you've passed the test that pertains to the area where you intend to fly, a commercial and recreational remote pilot will be able to fly in exactly the same airspace...... And the current 50 metre limit under the new proposals is going to be reduced to 5 metres, whether you are a commercial or recreational remote pilot! So yes, what is the point of the PFCO anymore?
I have mixed feelings about all of this.

I agree that if what is being proposed comes out the way you suggest above then, yes and yayyyy, no more expensive commercial insurance. But on the other hand, there is a strong possibility that the number of commercial jobs coming through will dry up since anyone will be able to do commercial type work: It's bad enough now under the present laws because of people doing paid work when they shouldn't. For example, I did a roof and high gutter inspection on a church a week or so ago and the client wants me to do another job for him as soon as the weather conditions are favorable. What's to stop any of the parishioners doing similar work for free if these new rules come into force? You can bet your bottom dollar that someone will do it for free thinking that they are doing the church a favor without thinking that they are putting someone out of business.

I'm not sure how I stand with this. I can see loads of pros & cons. At the moment I get fairly regular work from a news media company that, along with other (sparse) paying work, keeps me afloat. Not having to fork out for commercial insurance is a personal plus and being able to fly closer to people not under my control sounds attractive, but on the other hand this also applies to every tom dick & harry who currently can't. It has been said that the cream will always rise to the top and good commercial operators will be able to survive. I don't think so. I think it may just lead to a free for all.

I know I'm driveling on here. One part of me is well in favor of these new proposals but the other part of me is dead against it. I just don't know where I stand. One thing is for sure: Time will tell.
 
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I have mixed feelings about all of this.

I agree that if what is being proposed comes out the way you suggest above then, yes and yayyyy, no more expensive commercial insurance. But on the other hand, there is a strong possibility that the number of commercial jobs coming through will dry up since anyone will be able to do commercial type work: It's bad enough now under the present laws because of people doing paid work when they shouldn't. For example, I did a roof and high gutter inspection on a church a week or so ago and the client wants me to do another job for him as soon as the weather conditions are favorable. What's to stop any of the parishioners doing similar work for free if these new rules come into force? You can bet your bottom dollar that someone will do it for free thinking that they are doing the church a favor without thinking that they are putting someone out of business.

I'm not sure how I stand with this. I can see loads of pros & cons. At the moment I get fairly regular work from a news media company that, along with other (sparse) paying work, keeps me afloat. Not having to fork out for commercial insurance is a personal plus and being able to fly closer to people not under my control sounds attractive, but on the other hand this also applies to every tom dick & harry who currently can't. It has been said that the cream will always rise to the top and good commercial operators will be able to survive. I don't think so. I think it may just lead to a free for all.

I know I'm driveling on here. One part of me is well in favor of these new proposals but the other part of me is dead against it. I just don't know where I stand. One thing is for sure: Time will tell.
I agree but, consider this. These are at present only proposals and things could change. But as it is going to be a Europe wide project, I don't see them changing that much. Also, no-one yet knows what the on-line test for flying in a congested area is going to look like. Whatever, it will no doubt involve a bit of learning. If it does indeed resemble the multi choice NQE exam that Present PFCO holders have to attain, then that might put a lot of people off. Also, there is going to be a cost to all this and that also might be a barrier to some.

But as you suggest, it looks like the whole industry is going to get some degree of de-regulation. Overall, I'm in favour of that but with caveats!
 
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FlushVision

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I agree but, consider this. These are at present only proposals and things could change. But as it is going to be a Europe wide project, I don't see them changing that much. Also, no-one yet knows what the on-line test for flying in a congested area is going to look like. Whatever, it will no doubt involve a bit of learning. If it does indeed resemble the multi choice NQE exam that Present PFCO holders have to attain, then that might put a lot of people off. Also, there is going to be a cost to all this and that also might be a barrier to some.

But as you suggest, it looks like the whole industry is going to get some degree of de-regulation. Overall, I'm in favour of that but with caveats!
Well, the thought of having to do an on-line test, in itself, doesn't worry me...nor do I suspect you either, since the both of us have already taken the PfCO test and passed. I don't know what you scored in your test but I passed mine with flying colours. But that is a little bone of contention I have: Since I've already taken the PfCO test and have my Remote Pilot's Certificate, why on earth should I be forced to take another test when I've already proved my knowledge and competence? In this respect I think RPC holders should be exempt from having to take the test, whatever the test turns out to be.
 
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No matter what the test is, it's only a test to pass and be seen to pass, and how you interpret the regs, same as an online 18th edition electrical Level 3 regulations, they are an online test, it's nothing to do with the skill of the electrical engineers, but the way they interrupt the regs and reference the regulations, I've seen lots of shoddy work, claiming that everyone is not competent unless they pass an online exam, won't weed out the abusers, some possibly if the price is high, but they wilI just fly, I remember on GMB breakfast TV the fully qualified pilot who couldn't land on a drone mat while bitching everyone who wasn't qualified. A short online course with a test at the end could suffice, it's probably going to be work in progress, when you pass you are in possession of the basic knowledge to fly, if you choose to abuse, you have no one to blame but yourself, like the driving test, if speed, crash and injure people then the appropriate punishment is given.
 
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No matter what the test is, it's only a test to pass and be seen to pass, and how you interpret the regs, same as an online 18th edition electrical Level 3 regulations, they are an online test, it's nothing to do with the skill of the electrical engineers, but the way they interrupt the regs and reference the regulations, I've seen lots of shoddy work, claiming that everyone is not competent unless they pass an online exam, won't weed out the abusers, some possibly if the price is high, but they wilI just fly, I remember on GMB breakfast TV the fully qualified pilot who couldn't land on a drone mat while bitching everyone who wasn't qualified. A short online course with a test at the end could suffice, it's probably going to be work in progress, when you pass you are in possession of the basic knowledge to fly, if you choose to abuse, you have no one to blame but yourself, like the driving test, if speed, crash and injure people then the appropriate punishment is given.
Indeed. I think the idea is to make sure that every remote pilot has at least some basic knowledge of the regulations at least. You'd be surprised by the number of remote pilots that have no knowledge of the regulations whatsoever!

As you say, after that, it's up to each individual remote pilot to adhere (or not) to what they have learned.

@FlushVision I agree, I have no problem with any test/exam on-line or otherwise. I also passed the PFCO NQE with flying colours. And just for the record I also passed the practical flying and planning test with a recommendation from the instructor (an army helicopter pilot) for excellent flight control in manual mode without GPS enabled.

But like you, I do have a small gripe at having to take a further test and pay again when I've already shelled out so much. But I suppose it get's everyone (commercial and recreational remote pilots) on the same page and creates a level playing field for all remote pilots, so I get where they're coming from with this idea......
 
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