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Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need the A2 Certificate of Competency?
An A2 Certificate of Competency is suitable for all drone pilots, whether commercial or recreational. It is ideal for pilots who want to operate within the A2 subcategory of the Open Category.
This qualification enables pilots to fly a Class 2 aircraft down to 30m around ‘uninvolved people’ (people who are not participating in the drone flight). Pilots are also able to fly down to 5m if the aircraft is in a ‘low-speed’ mode.
Pilots without the A2 CofC may find they are limited in how and where they are able to fly their drone.
What’s the difference between an A2 CofC and a GVC?
The main difference between the A2 CofC and the GVC is the fact that each of these qualifications applies to separate operating categories.
An A2 CofC allows pilots to fly within the A2 subcategory of the Open Category. In contrast, pilots with a GVC are able to conduct Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) operations within the Specific Category. As such, the qualification you need will depend on the category you want to operate in. It’s important to consider the operating distances from people and buildings you want to maintain, as well as the class of drone you’ll be flying.
If you’re aiming to conduct operations across multiple categories, you may need to undertake both the A2 CofC as well as the GVC.
Which aircraft can I fly with an A2 CofC?
Any aircraft flown within the A2 subcategory must be Class 2 (C2).
A C2 aircraft is any aircraft that has less than a 4kg ‘maximum take-off mass’ (MTOM). This includes any sensors and additional equipment your aircraft might be carrying.
C2 aircraft must be ‘safely made’ according to EU manufacturing standards. As well as this, they must come equipped with a remote ID, noise limitations, and geo-awareness capabilities. Additionally, Class C2 drones must have a low-speed mode, which can limit maximum speed to at least 3 metres per second (m/s).
Currently, C2 drones are not available to buy in the UK. However, until 30 June 2022, pilots will be able to fly existing, ‘legacy’ drones. For more information about C2 and Legacy drones, see:
What if I already have a PfCO?
Pilots who hold a PfCO with an expiry date after 1 July 2020 will not notice an immediate change – they will still be able to operate under the terms of their existing permissions.
The new qualifications (A2 CofC and GVC) will be in place from 1 July. Pilots with a PfCO who want to fly a drone within the new categories will need to gain the qualification that is most relevant to their operations.