A2 Certificate of Competency

What does ‘A2’ mean?

The new EASA rules are based around 3 new ‘categories’: ‘Certified’ for complex environments or aircraft, ‘Specific’ for less complex situations that still need a lot of oversight, and ‘Open’ for less risky situations. Within the ‘Open’ category, there are 3 ‘subcategories’ as follows:

  • A3 Only ever outside of built-up areas or places there may be people such as theme parks, recreational areas, towns & cities etc.

  • A2 In built-up areas and as close as 30m (horizontally) to uninvolved persons (or 5m in a special low speed mode)

  • A1 In a built-up area and close to or over people.

You will notice that although ‘A3’ sounds very similar to where you can fly without CAA permissions using the old ‘drone code', ‘A1’ and ‘A2’ at first glance look like they  allow you to do more.

 

This is not quite the case, what has happened is that EASA has looked into the actual risks of having an unmanned aircraft of various weights in close proximity to people. This has resulted in them dividing up into ‘classes’, any small unmanned aircraft, including small toy drones and helicopters, these ‘classes’ will be CE marked onto new craft that will be coming out soon. There have also been provisions made for self-built craft and existing ‘legacy’ drones which will not have the CE markings on them.

 

What are the CE markings and how do they limit where I can fly?

Full details of the CE marked classes will be found along with a more detailed description of the above in CAP1789, but the basics are:

  • C0 class is intended to be for ‘toys’ that are made safely so that there is very little risk of injury. These can be flown very near or over people.

  • C1 class is for small (under 900g) craft which conform to certain safety standards to limit injury. These can be flown close to, but NOT over people.

  • C2 class is more equivalent to the current range of small DJI drones. Craft will need to be under 4kg and be equipped with a special low speed mode which will allow it to be flown as near as 5m to uninvolved people (or 30m without). This class cannot be flown in the ‘A1’ subcategory, and can only be flown in ‘A2’ if the pilot has passed the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC). Without this qualification C2 drones can only be flown in the ‘A3’ subcategory.

  • C3 and C4 are for drones between 4Kg - 25Kg and for ‘traditional’ model aircraft without guidance systems. These can only be flown in the ‘A3’ subcategory.

 

What about my existing drone?

Provisions have been made for existing craft based upon their ‘Maximum Take Off Mass’, which is the weight of the drone with all accessories fitted to it (for example, prop guards)

Under 500g can be used in subcategory ‘A1’ which allows you to fly close to, but with no intentional flight over people.

This will also require the pilot to be tested to an A2 C of C standard. 

Current drones that fit in this weight range includes (but not limited to):

  • DJI Mavic Mini

  • DJI Spark

  • DJI Mavic Air

 

Over 500g but less than 2Kg can be operated in category ‘A2’, but limited to 50m from people (rather than 30m) and will require the pilot to have the A2 CofC qualification to do so, otherwise they may only be flown in ‘A3’ (far from people).

Current drones that fit in this weight range includes (but not limited to):

  • DJI Phantoms

  • DJI Mavic Pro

  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom

 

Over 2Kg ‘legacy’ drones can only be flown ‘far from’ people in the ‘A3’ category

Current drones that fit in this weight range includes (but not limited to):

  • DJI Inspire 1 and 2

  • DJI Matrice M200 and 210

If you have one of these craft, you will need a PfCO (Currently) or a GVC (from July 2020).

 

What about my homebuilt drone?

If your homebuilt drone weighs less than 250g and has a maximum speed of 19 m/s (approx. 42.5 mph)

you can fly it in the A1 category (near people but not intentionally over them)

 

If it is between 250g and 25Kg, or is capable of flying at over 19 m/s you must only fly in the ‘A3’

subcategory and keep them 50m from uninvolved persons. This will include most FPV racing drones.

 

What about using my drone to make money?

From July 2020 the rules will be more about the risk of flying in a particular area rather than the reason for doing so, because of this you will not need permission from the CAA in order to be able to make money from images taken by your drone. However, without any permissions you must still follow all of the rules designed to minimise risk.

 

Below are listed where you can fly with new and existing craft and whether they are appropriate for commercial use:

  • C0 – Can be flown close to and over people, but designed as toys, unlikely to give any worthwhile images if fitted with a camera.

  • C1 – Possibly may have a decent camera, but manufacturers may limit this for commercial reasons in order to sell their higher spec models. Can be flown around people, but not over them.

  • C2 – Larger and more likely to carry a decent camera, if fitted with a ‘low speed’ mode can be flown to within 5m horizontally of uninvolved people. Will require training to A2 CofC level to permit it to be flown in the ‘A2’ subcategory. This drone would allow many commercial jobs to be carried out legally such as aerial wedding photography, roof inspections etc.

  • C3 – This would equate to the larger drones used for TV work etc and will require a much higher level of training and qualification to fly in built up areas. They can however be flown ‘far from’ people with only the online DMARES training and a flyer ID.

  • DJI Mavic Mini – This drone falls into the sub 500g legacy group which means it can be flown close to people (not over them) in the ‘A1’ category without any further training than DMARES provides. Theoretically this means it could be used for some commercial work, although most wedding venues etc will expect to see some proof of competence before allowing flights on their property, so an A2 CofC qualification would be a sensible and responsible move.

  • DJI Spark and DJI Mavic Air – Same as above.

  • DJI Mavic Pro and Pro 2, DJI phantoms, Parrot Anafi – These can be flown in the ‘A2’ subcategory, but only down to 50m from uninvolved persons and with the A2 CofC qualification. These are good craft for light commercial work and the 50m limitation will allow for some work within built-up areas.

Is a PfCO still relevant?

There are still reasons to gain a Permission for Commercial Operations before July 2020 as the standard permissions would allow you to operate in more areas than the A2 CofC will do from July, plus it is a standard that venue operators and prospective employers are familiar with.
You may also find that the price for a PfCO course is significantly less than it was a year ago, and almost certainly less than a GVC course will be once they start being offered.


The CAA has stated that anyone who is awarded a PfCO before the end of June will be able to fly according to the current standard permissions for 12 months, after which they can apply to have this changed to a safety case by applying to the CAA.


What does a PfCO offer over A2CofC?

A2 CofC allows you to fly a legacy drone under 2Kg in a built-up area, but only if it can be carried out with 50m clearance (horizontally) from uninvolved persons.
A PfCO would allow you to fly a drone up to 20Kg, will allow flights over people (50m up) and to take-off 30m from people. (All subject to a site safety inspection and following your Ops Manual)
All of these actions and more will be possible once a remote pilot has the GVC (General VLOS Certificate), but the CAA is putting the priority on training establishments to get the A2 CofC rolled out first.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our A2 C of C course is still currently under construction but please register your details below and we will contact you with the relevant information once the course is available.

A2 C of C - £225 inc VAT

Register your details for A2 C of C courses

Here at ATEC-3D, we believe that our training courses are best delivered face-to-face. We do not offer any online training courses as we like to be able to ensure that our students are comfortable and understand the topics in our curriculum before moving on. 

We dont just teach you to pass the exams, we teach you how to fly appropriately, safely and confidently.

Even though the CAA do not require a practical flight assessment for the A2 C of C, we offer it to all of our students free of charge. We like to go the extra mile in ensuring that our students our 100% happy with their training and how to fly their craft.

© 2020 by ATEC-3D.

Folkestone, Kent

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