Following on from our previous blog (BNUC-S Flight Test Guide Part 1) detailing the BNUC-S theory test, we have described here the process to pass the BNUC-S flight test practical and gain your CAA permission for aerial work. This process needs to be completed after passing the BNUC-S theory test and requires you to have your Operations Manual approved by EuroUSC. I will be using the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, and the DJI Inspire 1 to gain my qualification. I suggest after reading this guide, you take a look at our follow up post about being on set filming for professional productions for TV and movies.
This guide is not a cheat sheet or short-cut to pass the BNUC-S, however it may be a handy resource for tips and help on your BNUC-S flight test.
Preparing for the flight test
Once your Operations Manual has been approved, EuroUSC will send you the candidate notes for the next stage of the process, the BNUC-S Flight Examination. You will also receive the location of your flight test, and the contact details of your flight examiner so you can book a suitable date and complete your pre-site assessment.
You will be responsible for completing an accurate pre-site survey to demonstrate you can document any hazards and understand the area in which you will be flying from a geographical and aerial point-of-view. It would be hard to be over-prepared, so it’s worth noting as much as possible from the comfort of your own home to show you have prepared thoroughly. I would recommend using your Pre-Site Assessment sheet from your Operations Manual and also making notes for yourself which you can go through with the examiner.
Flying Practice and Manoeuvre
To pass the flight exam you will need to have good control over your aircraft and be able to perform a series of manoeuvres to a level that the flight examiner is happy with. I would recommend that you practice the manoeuvres on your guidance sheet several times in various weather conditions. It is often windy and you need to be able to complete them in the weather conditions that present themselves on your test. Not all manoeuvres needs to be completed in ATT mode, but it’s worth practicing with GPS off so you can perform them should the examiner ask you to turn GPS off.
Booking your Flight Test
My flight test location was in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, around 2 hours drive away. It is the responsibility of the pilot to check the weather conditions and contact the examiner the day before by 6pm if you think the weather will not be suitable for flying. My first two flight tests were rained off, and it was third time lucky. It is possible to complete the flight test if it is fairly windy, but make sure you are confident you can perform in the conditions on the day.
Arriving at your test site
On arrival at the test site I was greeted by Steve from EuroUSC, he was very welcoming and quick to put any nerves at ease. He obviously had a wealth of remote control aircraft experience, and his main priority was that we could operate our aircraft safely and under control at all times. The test site was a field on a farm and had a nice little outhouse where we went through the Pre-Site Survey and were briefed for the flight test.
After a cup of tea, Steve asked me to talk him through my Pre-Site Survery and identify any hazards or things to note about the site. If you have done your homework this is fairly straight-forward, try to identify any hazards, details of local air traffic control and any points to note about the airspace you will be flying in.
“Here’s One I Prepared Earlier” (Manoeuvres)
After our site discussions, Steve pulled out a model of the flying field. He used this to explain all the flight manoeuvres we would complete on the flight test. There was a lot to remember but Steve was happy to remind you the instructions for each manoeuvres throughout the test. He reminded me that “this is a flight test, not a memory test”.
Once we received the brief for the flight exam it was time to go to the field and perform our On-Site Survey. Using information from my Pre-Site Survey I had a good idea of potential hazards, however it is also important to look carefully for anything that is not shown on any Pre-Site material. After my survey I was ready to unpack the DJI Inspire 1, ready for my Pre-Flight Checklist.
I completed the Pre-Flight Checklist and made sure my aircraft was ready to fly and given the once over.
So, now was time to take-off and start the test. It was fairly windy, however the first parts of the test I was able to use GPS so it was nothing that was too tricky. I concentrated on watching the aircraft and just glancing at the screen if I needed to see the telemetry information or location of the Inspire. Steve asked me to complete the exercises we had discussed including some of the emergency procedures as detailed in the candidate guidance documentation.
My hardest manoeuvres:
1. I found the figure of eight the exercise that took the most concentration, it was quite hard to make the eight cross in the middle, however with the help of ‘draw flight path’ turned on in the DJI-GO app I could use the map as guidance.
2. Secondly the 45 degree climb exercise was also a little tricky. This is because you need to estimate how fast to travel and how quick to climb to end up at your desired height. It’s definately worth practicing the climb exercise several times before you arrive at your flight test.
After landing the aircraft and going through my post-flight checklist I sat down with Steve for the debrief. Fortunately he was very happy with my flying and confirmed I had passed the flight test. I appreciate Steve’s approach, and you could tell he wasn’t out to punish the odd mistake, but was just assessing whether you had done your homework and could fly safely.
What Happens Next?
After passing the flight test you are now ready to submit your application to the CAA to get your permission for aerial work. This involves some more paperwork and sending your Operations Manual off to EuroUSC who forward it on to the CAA.
If you are planning on starting your BNUC-S to get your permission for aerial work and need advice on quadcopters or aerial photography equipment, please get in touch via email or by calling us on 01737 457404. We supply various quadcopters such as the DJI Phantom 3 Range, DJI Inspire, and professional range of larger aircraft such as the DJI S900 that is capable of carrying a Panasonic GH4.