A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) Drone Training

A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) Drone Training

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Full Description

A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) Course 

The A2 CofC remote pilot competency course for hobbyists and pilots of small drones.

A2 CofC Drone Training Course Benefits

  • Course approved by the CAA.
  • Flexible and on-demand online learning through Heliguy Blackbox. Convenient and no need to travel.
  • Engaging content covering the A2 CofC syllabus with videos, quizzes, webinars, and task sheets.
  • Live Q&A sessions to access interactive training support.
  • Flexible invigilation - wide scope to book a time that suits you.
  • Sit your theory test remotely for a more relaxed examination environment.
  • Unlimited free resits.
  • Learn from our experienced team, which has trained more than 2,000 candidates and held dedicated courses for the police and large businesses.
  • No need to complete a time-consuming Operations Manual.
  • No practical flight assessment needed.
  • No requirement to apply to the CAA.
  • Dedicated aftercare support. Whether it's by phone, email, or through Blackbox, our team is there to offer advice and support after you've passed your exam. 
  • Go beyond the syllabus - join Heliguy Blackbox for partner discounts, bonus material, and additional industry courses for value-added learning.
  • Heliguy will issue your A2 CofC, valid for five years.
"Carrying out my A2 CofC course on the Blackbox syllabus and I have just sat my online exam. The whole experience with Heliguy has been awesome. Every contact for advice or any query has been met with a friendly can-do attitude by staff with a wealth of expertise and knowledge. I simply cannot envisage using any other training establishment for any further course or training need."

Ray Mills

What Is The A2 CofC?

The A2 CofC is a new qualification which will come into effect in the UK from November 2020, as part of new European regulations.

Holding an A2 CofC will allow you to fly in the A2 or A1 Transitional subcategories of the Open Category - regardless if you want to fly as a hobbyist or make money from your drone missions.

The A2 subcategory (fly close to people) will let you fly a C2 aircraft down to a maximum distance of 30m horizontally from uninvolved people. Or up to 5m in 'low-speed mode'.

From November 2020, to the end of June 2022 - known as the Transitional Period - an A2 CofC will let you operate aircraft weighing up to 2kg in the A2 Transitional subcategory. You will be able to fly up to 50m horizontally from uninvolved people.

Having an A2 CofC will also allow you to fly a drone weighing up to 500g in the A1 Transitional subcategory, which stipulates no intentional flight over uninvolved persons.

How Do I Get An A2 CofC?

Candidates can complete the A2 CofC course via Heliguy Blackbox, our online drone training platform, from May 4, 2020. The A2 CofC is typically a one-day Ground School course, culminating in a theory examination, however, the advantage of utilising Heliguy Blackbox is that candidates can complete the syllabus at their own pace whilst still retaining access to our training team throughout the process.

The A2 CofC course will cover topics such as basic principles of flight, congested area operations, avoiding collision, battery safety, and environmental factors. It will culminate in the theory test. Candidates training online can sit the exam remotely, using a webcam to maintain virtual exam conditions.

You will also have to complete a period of practical flight training (either with the RAE or under self-monitored circumstances), but there is no flight assessment or no need to complete a time-consuming Operations Manual.

Your qualification lasts for five years, after which you’ll have to renew it.

As well as getting your A2 CofC, you will also need to register as part of the UK's Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service.

What Can Fly In The A2 Subcategory?

You can fly C2 aircraft in the A2 subcategory.

A C2 aircraft is one which has a maximum take-off mass less than 4kg, is equipped with a low-speed mode (max speed 3m/s or 6.7mph), has been built to minimise injury to people, and meets other requirements, such as geo-awareness systems and noise limits.

However, there are currently no C2 drones available to buy. So, to give manufacturers the chance to release C2-rated drones, drone pilots can fly their existing drones (to become known as legacy aircraft) in the A2 Transitional subcategory if it weighs less than 2kg, from November 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022.

During the Transitional Period, you can also fly drones weighing up to 500g in the A1 Transitional subcategory, stipulating no intentional flight over uninvolved people.

But remember, you need your A2 CofC to be able to fly a C2 drone or a 'legacy' drone (less than 2kg) in the A2 subcategory or the A1 Transitional subcategory.

From July 1, 2022 - when the Transitional Period has finished - you can only fly these legacy aircraft in the A3 subcategory (fly far from people), which means no uninvolved people can be present within the area of your flight, and you can not fly within 150m horizontally of residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational areas.

What If I Haven't Got An A2 CofC?

If you haven't got an A2 CofC, you could find yourself limited in terms of where you can fly your drone.

From November 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022, if you have a 'legacy' drone weighing between 250g and 2kg (such as Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom, Phantom Series) and you don't have an A2 CofC, you will have to operate in the A3 subcategory.

What If I Have A PfCO?

Holders of a PfCO valid beyond November 2020 can operate under the terms of the current permission, until the renewal date.

However, your existing PfCO qualifications will remain valid only for a finite amount of time and will in the future need to be revalidated by an RAE, such as Heliguy, at which point you will achieve the General Visual Line of Sight (GVC) qualification.

When you renew after the new legislation begins, the PfCO will become known as an Operational Authorisation, but you will be granted the same Standard Permissions as before and these will be converted into a PDRA (pre-defined risk assessments).

The change in regulation must, however, be reflected within the Operations Manual accordingly.

However, if you have never had a PfCO but want to operate under similar permissions, or if your PfCO has expired before the start of November and you don't renew it, you will need to complete the GVC training.

A2 CofC FAQs

Answers to your most frequently asked questions about the A2 CofC.

What is the A2 CofC?

The A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) is a remote pilot competency certificate primarily intended to assure safe operations of drones close to uninvolved persons. It is being introduced as part of the new EASA drone regulations, starting in the UK on November 2020.

Why do I need an A2 CofC?

An A2 CofC allows pilots to fly an C2 class aircraft within the A2 subcategory of the Open Category and small legacy aircraft within the A1 transitional subcategory. This contrasts with the GVC, which allows pilots to fly in the specific category using visual line of sight (VLOS) and is required to obtain an Operational Authorisation.

How Do I Obtain an A2 CofC?

You can obtain an A2 CofC by completing a one-day Ground School course with Heliguy. You can sit your A2 CofC at one of three Heliguy training venues (The Elvetham, Shrigley Hall, and The Village Hotel). Alternatively, sit the course online via Heliguy Blackbox and complete the modules remotely in your own time and at your own convenience.

The A2 CofC course will cover topics such as basic principles of flight, congested area operations, avoiding collision, battery safety, and environmental factors. It will culminate in a theory examination. As a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE), we now have dispensation from the CAA to allow us to invigilate the A2 CofC theory examination remotely using your webcam to maintain virtual exam conditions within Blackbox - if you choose to sit our online drone training

There are no requirements to complete a practical flight test or an Operations Manual for the A2 CofC.

Can I Use My A2 CofC Before November 2020?

No. Heliguy is allowing candidates to sit the A2 CofC course and obtain this qualification before the new EASA regulations start in the UK, but successful candidates must not fly under the terms of the A2 CofC until November 2020.

How Long Does An A2 CofC Last For?

Your qualification lasts for five years, after which you’ll have to renew it.

What Happens If I Haven’t Got an A2 CofC?

If you haven’t got an A2 CofC, you could find yourself limited in terms of where you can fly your drone.

From November 2020, to July 1, 2022, if you have a ‘legacy’ drone weighing between 500g and 2kg (such as Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom, Phantom Series) and you don’t have an A2 CofC, you will have to operate in the A3 subcategory (far from people), which stipulates that there can be no uninvolved people present within the area of flight, and no flight within 150m horizontally of residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

Likewise, if you have a ‘legacy’ aircraft which weighs up to 500g – such as the DJI Mavic Mini/Spark/Mavic Air – and you don’t have an A2 CofC, you will be restricted to flying in the A3 subcategory from November 2020.

Do I Need To Do Anything Other Than My A2 CofC?

Yes. You must complete a period of practical flight training, either under the guidance of an RAE (ie Heliguy - additional charge applies) or under self-monitored circumstances, conducted within the operating conditions of subcategory A3 but simulating the operating situations associated with the A2 subcategory. You can complete the practical flight training before or after the A2 CofC Ground School. When conducting the self-guided practical training, you should perform as many flights as you deem necessary to gain a reasonable level of knowledge/skills to operate your drone. Heliguy recommends a flight time of eight hours. 

After you have completed your practical flight training, fill out the Candidate Practical Flight Training and Declaration Form and sign it. Scan this form or take an image of it with your phone, and then upload it to the Heliguy site.

In preparation for your practical flight training, you must first complete the following activities:

    • Register your drone and complete the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service mandatory training and examination, and be in possession of the Flyer ID number associated with that test;
    • Download the Candidate Practical Flight Training and Declaration Form;
    • Familiarise yourself with your drone's user manual;
    • Download NATS Drone Assist App.
What Do I Have To Do In The A2 CofC Theory Examination?

The exam – sat in formal conditions – comprises a minimum of 30 multiple-choice questions, specifically covering meteorology; UAS flight performance; and technical and operational mitigations for ground risk.

The exam is a closed-book format (except when questions require reference to charts, or other sources of specific aeronautical information) and the minimum pass mark is 75%.

The examination will last for 75 minutes. Any candidate with a recognised disability or additional needs (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia) will be given an additional 15 minutes.

What Happens If I Fail The A2 CofC Exam?

Heliguy will offer free resits for a period of 12 months after you have failed your first exam. Any candidates who need to resit the test a year after failing the first will have to pay a nominal fee and re-do the one-day A2 CofC course, as well as sit the exam.

Does the A2 CofC allow me to operate commercially?

Yes. Post-November 2020, anyone can operate a UAS for commercial gain within any category or subcategory. The purpose of the flight no longer dictates your requirement for training meaning there is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial operations.

Where can I fly my drone if I have an A2 CofC?

Providing you have an A2 CofC, operators can use a C2-rated drone (up to 4kg) in the A2 subcategory to fly up to 30m horizontally from uninvolved people, or 5 metres in ‘low speed’ mode. This will be a huge benefit for drone pilots.

During the Transitional Period – between November 2020, and July, 1, 2022 – operators who have an A2 CofC can fly a ‘legacy’ drone weighing up to 2kg (ie a DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom, or Phantom 4) in the A2 subcategory and get as close as 50m horizontally from uninvolved people.

During the Transitional Period, operators who have an A2 CofC can also fly a ‘legacy’ aircraft which weighs up to 500g – such as the DJI Mavic Mini – in the A1 Transitional subcategory, where the stipulation is that you must not fly over uninvolved people.

Interestingly, there is no specification in the A2 subcategory/A1 Transitional about operating close to buildings, cars, trains or boats.

Do I need any experience with Drones before attending the coures?

No. Whether you have experience or not - our drone training school helps take you from novice to commercial pilot, regardless of any existing drone experience.

Our curriculum is well-paced to ensure that those more recently entering the industry can get up to speed, while experienced pilots will still be getting value at every stage.

If you're looking for CAA approved drone training near you - check out our locations here.

How long does it take to become a professional drone operator?

From start to finish the entire process takes around 4 - 6 weeks.

You'll attend a 3 day ground school, during which you'll learn all the necessary knowledge and produce an Operations Manual.

From there, you'll book a practical flight assessment to ensure that you've learnt the required piloting skills.

Once that's done - it's just a case of applying to the CAA with a recommendation from your NQE - which Heliguy are authorised to make! 

We normally say it's between 7 and 14 days from when your application hits the CAA to receiving your permissions.

What do I do if I fail one of the tests on this course?

The first thing is not to panic - there's a lot of information to take in and you might slip up on a difficult question or a complex flight task.

Either way - Heliguy never  charge you to resit these tests - unlike some of our competitors!

You'll have a chance to go away and brush up on your skills before re-taking the test at a time that's right for you.

Do I need any kind of insurance before I take the course?

No - Heliguy offer free insurance for your practical flight assessment through their partners at Coverdrone.

Once you're operating commercially of course, you'll need to have insurance in place to protect your operations and your equipment.

What are the Open, Specific and Certified drone categories?

Under the new EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) laws, three categories will define where drones can be flown.

These categories are:

Open: Operations that present a low (or no) risk to third parties.

Specific : Operations that present a greater risk than that of the Open category, or where one or more elements of the operation fall outside the boundaries of the Open Category. Holding an Operational Authorisation allows you to fly in this category.

Certified : Operations that present an equivalent risk to that of manned aviation. This category is for high-complexity missions.


The Open Category is broken down into three subcategories:

A1: Fly over people.
A2 : Fly close to people.
A3 : Fly far from people.

Each of these subcategories has more specified criteria of where/how your drone can be operated.


More Information On New UK Drone Regulations

What Are The New Drone Classes?

As part of the new regulations, a new class system for drones will be introduced. Each make of drone will have its own class rating – from C0 to C4 – which will be based on certain criteria, such as weight, maximum speed and other features based around safety and geo-awareness.

Specific classes of drone can be flown in specific subcategories of the Open category.

Currently, no drones meet the current class requirements, so no C0-C4 aircraft exists.


Explore New Drone Class System

What Is The Transitional Period?

Because no drones currently meet the class requirements, a Transitional Period will run from November 2020, to July 1, 2022, to give manufacturers the chance to bring out C0-C4 drones. 

This means that you can continue to fly your current DJI drones - to become known as legacy aircraft - in accordance with the new rules.


A2 CofC vs GVC - Which Do You Need?

Can I Use My GVC Before November 2020?

No you can’t. Heliguy is allowing candidates to sit the GVC course and obtain this qualification before the new EASA regulations start in the UK, but successful candidates must not fly under the terms of the GVC until November 2020.

I have a Ground School Certificate, Flight Assessment or Operations Manual. Can I finish my training with Heliguy?

In the past - Heliguy were happy to assist candidates who had started their training elsewhere.

However, due to the improvement in the structure of the A2 CofC and GVC courses when compared to the PfCO, there is no longer the chance to switch midway through your training.

If you're in the position where you have completed some part of your training, please give the training team a call on 0191 296 1024 to discuss what options you may have.

Do I need a Commercial Drone License or a Hobbyist Licence?

As of the time of writing, there is no hobbyist drone license in the UK.

Whether or not you'll need some form of qualification depends on the circumstances of your flight.

Use the button below to learn more about the "categories" of flight.

Open Category Drone Flights