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Aerial Photographic Pilots � Licensing requirements?

Aviation is a huge industry worldwide, it employs approximately 29 million people which is more than the employed population of France. For some it is just a hobby and the different levels of training and certification make this possible without the huge costs of further training. However, the lower levels of certification and training also restrict what a pilot can do.

Commercial aerial photography can be a demanding job for both the photographer and the pilot. Many pilots in the United Kingdom who hold a Private Pilots License (PPL) will have taken a camera with them and snapped away to take advantage of the interesting views. This is perfectly legal although the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) does specify that the minimum crew should be two � how can you fly the plane if you�re taking photographs! If however the images are commissioned or will be sold at a later date, even in several years from an aerial photographic library the operation becomes a commercial aerial photographic flight which falls into the category of Aerial Work. This therefore requires the pilot to have a minimum of a current Commercial Pilots License (CPL).

The difference in training between a PPL and CPL is huge, both in cost and commitment. For example a PPL requires 7 written exams and can be done in several weeks. However a CPL requires all this plus a further 14 written exams as well as hour building and an additional flight test.

Therefore a pilot employed for commercial aerial photography must hold a valid CPL. For this to be current he must have completed 3 landings and takeoffs in the preceding 90 days and must also be current on the type of aircraft he his flying.

Further training and certification maybe required for certain types of aerial photography. For example survey photography or high level vertical photography may require flying at a greater altitude. This may well take the aircraft into Class A airspace which would not only require the pilots to hold a CPL but also a valid Instrument Rating (IR) and of course the Aircraft must also be certified for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

Submitted by:

Keith McGregor

Keith McGregor is a partner of Strawberrysoup, a web design agency with offices in Chichester and Bournemouth. Strawberrysoup specialise in creative web design, content managed websites, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and graphic design



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