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RUSTA CAA UAS Training Programme

We are proud to have recently partnered with RUSTA, one of the leading entities for UAS training here in the UK. They offer a fantastically concise and thorough course run by a team of friendly ex-military instructors. “How much will it cost to get my permission for aerial work?” I hear you ask. That’s the best bit, RUSTA’s training is only £900 (£750+VAT) including all course material and the practical flight exam.

As more people are becoming better informed of the rules and regulations that govern drone flights, more people are getting their Permission For Aerial Work to fly for commercial purposes. There are now over 10 UK CAA approved qualified entities that offer courses to help people gain their PFAW.


The full course comes to £900 (£750 excluding VAT). This is substantially cheaper than some of their competitors and provides extremely good value for money. So what do you get for your money? The RUSTA course includes online eLearning resources, a two and a half day theory course, support in writing your Operations Manual and of course a flight exam. In this blog post I will give a more in depth write up of each section of their programme, so that you can see for yourself exactly why we support the RUSTA course over its competitors.

A Background in Military Aviation

RUSTA has a team of instructors who are all ex military aircrew and have a lot of experience with a variety drones. Everything from consumer level camera platforms such as the DJI Phantom, to military reconnaissance UAVS such as the MQ9 Reaper. Having this kind of background and formal training under their belt gives them a unique take on UAV operations and they are able to tie in real-world situations and first hand stories to help teach the importance of aviation safety.


Before attending the ground school, RUSTA give you access to their online educational material. This gives you the chance to do your homework before attending the course and to get a taster for what is to come. It also ensures that everyone who attends the course has a good foundation knowledge of operating drones safely.

Some of the topics covered include; Air Law, Meteorology, Flight Navigation and the key Principles of Flight.


Ground School / Training Course

The ground school is a two and half day course in a class room type environment. Class sizes vary but can cater up to 16 people which is a good size to allow everyone to interact and have one-to-one conversations with the instructor.


RUSTA hold training courses at a variety of locations around the UK, making it accessible and more convenient for people to attend. As of writing this article, they have venues in the following areas; Bristol, Edinburgh, Whitchurch, Blackpool, Wembley, Lincoln and Belfast.

To aid you through the theory, you are given a text book with additional details in line with what the instructor is teaching you. This is yours to keep so that you can refer to it at any time in the future.


The training ends on the third day with a theory exam to test your knowledge of what you have learnt on the course. The exam is made up of 56 multiple choice questions in which you are given 70 minutes to complete. In order to proceed to the next stage in the programme, you must pass the theory exam. The pass mark is 75%, meaning you must get at least 42 answers correct.

Operations Manual

The next stage is writing your Operations Manual. But before we get into it, what is an Operations Manual? Also known as an Ops Manual, it is a document that you create that essentially puts into writing how you will operate safely with your aircraft(s) in various scenarios. They can vary in length but you can expect to write around 40 to 50 pages. This then becomes your bible for how to undertake each of your flights.


Although you have to write this document in your own time, you’re not without help. You will have received a lesson on how to write your Ops Manual during the training course. On top of that, RUSTA provides you with a comprehensive template that you can use as a guide to help you shape your Ops Manual so that you can create your own rules and procedures as to how you will operate safely. Once you are satisfied with the manual, you can submit it to the team at RUSTA HQ who will go through it and give you feedback on how it can be improved.

Flight Exam

Now for the fun bit! The flight exam is to test your ability to operate safely while sticking to your Operations Manual. This includes everything from your pre-site assessment to the post-flight checks.

During the flight exam, your flying skills and experience will be tested by demonstrating a variety of manoeuvres, simulating emergency procedures and performing a task (e.g. taking photos of a building).


As with the training course, RUSTA have a variety of locations around the country to complete your flight exam. These include Blackpool, Lincoln, Bristol and Newton Abbot. What’s more, they work with you to find a mutual time, date and location for the exam, unlike some of their competitors that do not give you an option.

You can usually expect to get your flight exam booked within 2 weeks of having your Ops Manual ratified.

Once the exam is over and you have passed, you’re done! You will now have earned your RUSTA wings and are ready to apply for your Permission For Aerial Work from the CAA.

Round up of the RUSTA course

In my eyes and honest opinion, RUSTA are providing a top quality service and I would definitely recommend them if you are considering becoming a qualified drone operator. Having got my qualification through one of their competitors years ago (before RUSTA had started up), this course sets a very high standard for quality of learning and the support that you get. They have good intentions, have a great team and all for a very good price.

If you want to get in touch with them, you can visit their website, or give them a call on 01454 643100.


RC Geeks and RUSTA

RC Geeks can help with all your equipment needs for becoming a commercial drone operator. Whether it is just a battery or looking to upgrade your aircraft, we have a large range of products suitable for commercial use. If you are looking at getting your CAA permissions for aerial work, and don’t know where to start, please give us a call or email and we can talk you through the process.

Our flight expert Phil has a vast experience with commercial UAV operations and can be reached via email here.

Question or comment?