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GVC Drone Training for Professionals
The GVC is the industry recognised certificate for all professional and commercial drone operators.
AV8 offer courses for a wide range of drone operations on a business-to-business basis. If you'd like to discuss your organisation's training requirements, or if you're interested in becoming a Training Partner, we'd be delighted to speak to you. Unfortunately we no longer offer courses to direct students.
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Where do I start?
If you want to fly and operate drones professionally, the General VLOS Certificate (GVC) is the most practical and effective way to reach your aims. Legally you don't need any special training or certification to fly drones commercially (just a Flyer ID, Operator ID and correct insurance), however for most operators the limitations on where you can fly and how close you can get to people are far too restrictive to be practical. This is referred to as the Open Category.
It is possible to fly with fewer restrictions in Open Category via the A2 Certificate of Competence (A2 CofC), however there are some strong caveats with regards to its usefulness and longevity (see the A2 CofC below for more info).
The way to remove and reduce the limitations on where you can fly is by obtaining a CAA Operational Authorisation (an "OA") so you can operate in what's called the Specific Category. To obtain an OA, you first need to complete a GVC course with an approved training provider, like AV8. The OA is a formal permission that allows you to fly drones up to 25kg inside congested and built up areas and to within 50m of people. The important distinction to note is that this 50m separation distance is measured as an invisible "bubble" around the drone, as apposed to the 50m "cylinder" that applies in the Open Category. This effectively means that, subject to certain safety precautions, you have enormous freedoms in where you can fly, even to the point of flying overhead people if you're more than 50m above them if it can be done safely (and for no longer than necessary).
An OA also provides you with a far more professional client-facing image, so much so that its estimated that around 80% of the UK's £42bn drone industry is only available to operators with an OA, since most clients specify it as a baseline requirement. If you're planning on flying for another drone operator, it will also very likely be a requirement that you have. a full GVC.
Got questions? Feel free to schedule an informal chat with us.
The GVC is a pilot competency course designed to provide you with everything you need to obtain an Operational Authorisation (OA) from the CAA. It consists of some online study, an exam conducted under formal conditions, the creation of an operations manual, and finally a practical flight test. Once you've completed the course, you're awarded both the GVC and A2 CofC (our courses are modular!) and you can then use your shiny new certificate to apply to the CAA (see below for more info on the OA).
Having a GVC brings a lot of flexibility and professionalism to your drone operations. You learn about flight operations, meteorology (the weather), flight performance, as well as the practicalities of planning and conducting safe and legal drone flights. Depending on your circumstances, the course can be finished in as little as a week, however most students complete it over the course of 4 to 6 weeks on a part time basis.
The theory section of the course is completed online via our virtual learning environment; super easy to use and navigate and there are lots of quizzes and knowledge checks to keep you on track. Once you're ready, the exam is online and on-demand 24/7/365 (literally!). You'll connect with a proctor (a human being) who'll help you get set up and ready. The exam is multiple choice and covers the same areas as the knowledge checks. Because of the way our courses are structured we have a near 100% first time pass rate, however if you happened to have a bad day we provide you with some additional support and retakes of the exam are always free.
With the exam complete you'll be able to log in to Flight Docs, our very own automated system for creating your operations manual. It takes around 30 minutes, after which you'll have a full compliant and formatted document sitting in your inbox. The final step is your practical flight test.
We have a network of flight examiners across the whole of the UK from which you can choose the one closest and most convenient to you. We also provide you with the details of how the flight test is performed right at the start of your course so you can practice whilst you study. The test itself consists of planning for the flight, setting up, completing the various manoeuvres, responding to simulated emergencies and closing your operation down. It may seem a little daunting but we guide you every step of the way.
The A2 CofC
The A2 Certificate of Competence (A2 CofC) is a way to provide greater freedoms to drone pilots of lightweight drones who complete some introductory training. It consists of three study modules, completed online, followed by a formal exam taken under exam conditions. The average time to complete the A2 course can range between 1 and 3 days, depending on the student.
The CAA have confirmed that the original "transitional" period for flying what the CAA calls "legacy drones" in the A2 sub-category has now been extended until the 1st of January 2026. This was due to end on the 31st December 2022, and would have meant that all drones currently owned or on sale would no longer be able to be flown with an A2 CofC with reduced separation distances.
With this latest change, you can now fly in the A2 sub-category and keep your existing drone! This is fantastic news for holders of the A2 CofC and for the UK industry as a whole. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
CAA Operational Authorisation
Your GVC goes hand-in-hand with your CAA Operational Authorisation (OA). Applying for an OA is straightforward and all completed online via the CAA's website. You simply enter your details, upload copies of your operations manual, course certificate, flight logs and insurance, and pay the CAA's application fee (around £252). It usually takes between 2 and 4 weeks to receive your OA which will be valid for 1 year. The renewal process after 1 year is very similar but with a reduced fee.
Once you have your OA, you can then exercise its privileges:
Fly within areas used for commercial, recreational, industrial and residential purposes (aka congested areas)
Fly to within 50m of uninvolved people, reduced to 30m when taking off and landing
Whilst flying in the Specific Category (under your OA), you must at all times fly in accordance with the procedures and limitations specified in your operations manual and you must also have commercial drone insurance.
Got questions? Feel free to schedule an informal chat with us.
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If you're brand new to drones, then the full GVC course is for you. Designed for anyone, regardless of previous experience or learning style, we give you everything you need to achieve your GVC.
Full GVC Course
Upgrade your legacy PfCO to the full GVC the easy way. 100% online, no flight test requirement and all your operations manual updates are provided. A2 CofC is also included as standard.
PfCO Upgrade Course
Exclusively for graduates of AV8's A2 CofC course! We designed the A2 and GVC courses to fit hand-in-glove; this means you can progress to the GVC without repeating any content.
GVC Modular Course
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AV8 Offer courses on a business-to-buiness basis only.