A Guide to the BNUC-S UAV Pilot Qualification Part 1

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This blog is intended to talk you through the BNUC-S pilot qualification for aerial work. To fast forward to the flight exam please see the BNUC-S Flight Test Part 2.

Whether you are a photographer or an architect, you will need a licence to operate your UAV for commerical use. What is commercial use I hear you ask? Well thats a little bit more complicated. But we take it that any financial gain will be counted as aerial work. So if you are selling photographs or providing aerial surveys of some kind, you will need a licence. For further guidance of the rules see CAP722 published by the CAA.


The BNUC-S is a course run by EuroUSC (Update 17/01/2017: now no longer operating in the UK), a private company who train pilots to gain their permit for aerial work from the CAA. There are other ways and other companies out there, which we have not investigated, but EuroUSC seem a popular and safe choice.

The course is in 2 stages, the first one being the theory test which currently costs £750+VAT (price at  September 2014). Stage 2 is a Flight Exam (priced at £350+VAT as of September 2014). It is quite a long process, mainly due to needing to send an Operations Manual for approval with the CAA. I would allow for around 3 months from booking the course to achieving a permit for aerial work. The process is like this:

bnucflowchart Process to gain your permit:

1. Sign up, attend and pass the EuroUSC Theory Course

2. Create Operations Manual for your Organisation

3. Operations Manual can be reviewed 1-2 times by EuroUSC without extra charge and each time can take 10-15 working days to return

4. Flight Skills Assessment – Flight Exam

5. CAA Application for Permission for Aerial Work (EuroUSC submit your Operations Manual to the CAA)

6. Permit for Aerial Work arrives in the post

So that is the process, quite long and time consuming, however essential if we want safe UAV operation in the UK.

This blog will be followed by part 2 that will go in to more detail on the Operations Manual and Flight Exam.

So what is the Ground School Theory and Exam about?

The course covers several different topics relating to UAV’s, from aircraft knowledge to navigation. You will learn all about the importance of safety and airworthiness.

The following subjects are covered in detail:

Aviation Safety
Air Law
Flight Performance and Operational Planning
Human Factors
Operations Manual
Procedures: Planning & Risk Management
Flight Procedures
National Aviation Authority Processes

The exam is on the 2nd day of the course and has 60 multiple choice questions. You need to get 51 out of 60 correct to achieve the 85% pass mark. Everything is covered on the course, but it is advisable to read the course material a good 2-3 times before the course to familiarise yourself with the course content.

It is an open book exam, so you can bring in any notes you have made and the course material but there is not enough time to refer to the book for every question.

Its worth noting that the Navigation section involves being able to understand an Air Chart, in these times of Sat Nav it can be quite daunting opening up a paper map, but it is fairly straight forward once you have got to grips with it. The airchart provides information of local airfields and will be an essential part of future flight planning.


Part 2 of this blog is now available, to see how we got on with the flight test please see our blog – BNUC-S Flight Test Guide.

Any questions, simply comment below.



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