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//General Visual Line of Sight Certificate

General Visual Line of Sight Certificate

GVCHere at Nice Cat Media, we take the responsibility of conducting safe and professional drone flights extremely seriously. Back in 2019, Rob our drone pilot, undertook the Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) course (conducted by the excellent Andy and Scott from Pigs Can Fly). The PfCO at the time was the legal requirement to conduct commercial drone operations such as aerial filming.

Sometime later, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), introduced a new qualification (GCV) to replace the PfCO. We are pleased to say that Rob has now converted his PfCO to the new GVC.


The Evolution: Introduction of GVC

In December 2020, the CAA announced the introduction of a new certification known as the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC). This shift was part of a wider European harmonization effort aimed at streamlining drone regulations across the continent.

The GVC places an increased emphasis on the practical skills and knowledge required for safe and effective drone operations. It is designed to be more flexible, allowing operators to pursue different categories of operations based on their specific needs. This means that drone operators can specialize in areas such as flying in congested areas or flying larger drones beyond the weight limitations set by the PfCO.

Benefits of Converting to GVC

The transition from PfCO to GVC offers several benefits for drone operators. Firstly, the GVC allows operators to adapt to the changing drone regulations not just in the UK but also across Europe. The harmonization effort enables operators to seamlessly conduct cross-border operations with a single certification. This opens up new opportunities for expansion and collaboration for UK drone operators.

Secondly, the GVC provides operators with the flexibility to choose and specialize in specific categories of drone operations. This specialization allows operators to stand out in the industry and provide specialized services tailored to client needs. It also facilitates the adoption of new technologies and capabilities as the drone industry continues to evolve.

Furthermore, the GVC certification process incorporates a focus on practical assessment, ensuring that operators possess the necessary skills required for safe and efficient drone operations. This practical assessment includes flight planning, risk assessment, emergency procedures, and flight skills evaluation. The GVC places more emphasis on real-world application rather than just theoretical knowledge.

Challenges and Considerations

While the shift from PfCO to GVC presents numerous advantages, it also comes with challenges. In order to obtain a GVC, drone operators must meet the new training and assessment requirements specified by the CAA. This may involve additional costs and time commitments for operators who need to retrain or refresh their skills. Additionally, the GVC requires periodic re-validation to ensure ongoing competency, which adds to the operators’ responsibilities.

Another challenge lies in the perception and awareness of the GVC among potential customers and clients. The PfCO has long been the recognized standard for commercial drone operations, and transitioning to the GVC may require drone operators to educate their clients about the new certification. Building trust and demonstrating the benefits of the GVC will be essential for operators to thrive in this transition period.


The introduction of the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) marks a significant shift for drone operators in the UK. This transition from the longstanding Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) certification offers operators greater flexibility, specialization opportunities, and compatibility with European drone regulations. While the conversion from PfCO to GVC presents challenges, such as training requirements and customer education, the benefits far outweigh these obstacles, making the switch a worthwhile investment for the future of UK drone operators. As the drone industry continues to flourish, embracing the GVC certification will undoubtedly prove to be a valuable decision for drone operators seeking growth and adaptability in an ever-evolving market


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Rob Lloyd

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