Department of Mechanical Engineering

Enquiries and bookings

Mrs Gillian Elsworth
Centre for Power Transmission and Motion Control
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Bath
Claverton Down
Bath BA2 7AY


Tel: +44 (0)1225 386371

This course is run in conjunction with SalusUAV.

Bath Unmanned Aerial Academy

PfCO – Permission for Commercial Operations

The University of Bath and SalusUAV have partnered to form the Bath Unmanned Aerial Academy. The flagship course is a sector-leading, CAA-approved PfCO training course. This course combines:

  • An enhanced course – 4 days plus flight assessment day, including:
    • Ground School – 3 days
    • PfCO ground school examination
    • Additional Practical Operations Day
    • Guidance to develop your operations manual
    • Operations Manual Approval
    • Flight assessment
    • Submission of your application to the CAA.
  • Highly experienced instructors from military and civilian aviation sectors
  • University facilities – lecture rooms, computing suites

Who should apply

Individuals / companies who wish to engage in aerial work for commercial reward and desire a high-level of operational training. No prior experience is required although a satisfactory level of operating proficiency will be required by the time of the flight assessment.

Further details

The University of Bath and SalusUAV share the CAA's belief that PfCO courses should not be tick-in-the-box exercises, but courses which will fully prepare you to undertake UAS operations, safe in the knowledge you understand the law, understand how to carry out operational risk assessments, and most importantly understand how to operate your equipment professionally and safely, enhancing your business, your operational resilience and reputation. To this end at the request of operators, we run all our ground schools as live, interactive classroom events facilitated by aviation experts, and now also offer a fourth day of practical exercises extending into the field.
Upon completion, participants should be able to do the following:

  • Understand the theory of Air law, Airspace Operating Principles, Airmanship and Aviation Safety, Human Factors, Meteorology and Navigation
  • Pass the PfCO Theory Examination
  • Complete a flight plan, site and risk assessment
  • Write an operations manual
  • Understand the pre-requisites for attaining PfCO
  • Understand how to plan, risk assess and carry out an operation safely

The initial course is held over four days at the University of Bath, with the flight assessment day scheduled for a later date (once the student is ready and has met the pre-requisites). On successful completion of the ground school, students will then need to develop an operations manual stating how their commercial operation will be carried out. Once the manual is approved, adequate insurance is in place, and students have a satisfactory level of competence operating their UAS, a flight assessment may then be carried out. The University of Bath and SalusUAV will guide students through each step. On successfully passing of the flight assessment, we will make the necessary recommendations to the CAA for PfCO certification.
After each day and at the start of the next, there are refresher sessions to confirm understanding of the previous days’ modules.
NB: Please note that the purpose of the PfCO course is to enable safe operations, not to learn to fly a UAS.

The course will consist of:

Day 1 - Ground School

  • Air law (1 hour)
  • Aircraft Knowledge (1 hour)
  • Human Factors (1 ½ hours)
  • Airmanship and Aviation Safety (1 hour)

Day 2 - Ground School

  • Meteorology (2 hours)
  • UAS Airspace Operating Principles (1 hour)
  • Navigation (2 hours)
  • Batteries (1 hour)

Day 3 - Ground School

  • Operating procedures & Planning (1 hour)
  • Briefing & Planning Exercises (1 ½ hours)
  • Ground school Examination (1 hour)

Day 4 - Practical Operational Training

This additional day concentrates on taking planning theory learnt during the ground school and using it in a practical operational training exercise. Students will plan, risk assess and site assess an operation and then manage the actual running of it in the field. This day is particularly useful when considering the writing of the Operations Manual and how students will run their commercial operations. Areas covered include:

  • Risk assessment
  • Site assessment
  • Weather assessment
  • NOTAM and restricted airspace checks
  • Checklist use
  • Resilient Planning and briefing

Day 5 - Flight Assessment

This is the final stage to be passed before the submission of the application to the CAA for a PfCO. Before undertaking this stage, the student must have passed the PfCO theory exam, have adequate insurance, have completed an operations manual approved by SalusUAV and have proof of a satisfactory level of recent experience flying the relevant UAS. The date will therefore be scheduled after the completion of the Ground School and Operational Training. The location for the flight assessment is to be agreed with SalusUAV in advance but most locations in the South of England, Midlands, North of England and South of Wales are acceptable. The scenario will be supplied in advance to allow proper planning. The flight assessment will include:

  • Operational Risk Assessment
  • Operating Procedures as per Operations Manual
  • Flight Checks
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Knowledge of the Operations Manual
SalusUAV is a CAA approved National Qualified Entity. SalusUAV personnel have an exceptional aviation pedigree including:

  • over 50 years combined military flying experience
  • over 50 years combined commercial flying experience
  • fixed wing and rotary UAS experience
  • professional training for industry and academia in human factors, flight simulators, aviation law and safety management.
  • military pilot training programmes for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
The University of Bath is consistently ranked as the best in the South West and one of the top ten UK Higher Education institutions. In particular, it is the Most Highly Recommended UK University and 1st for student experience in 2014 and 2015. As part of the Bath Unmanned Aerial Academy you will get access to both the University’s facilities (lecture rooms, computing suites, wind tunnels, laboratories etc.) and its staff. The UAS courses are supported by Dr David Cleaver, Dr Jonathan du Bois and Dr Pejman Iravani. Their combined experience includes:

  • over 20 years teaching experience with excellent student feedback
  • research level experience
    • Aerodynamics
    • UAS sensing for Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations
  • undergraduate level experience
    • Propulsion
    • UAS Communications
    • Autopilot systems