It isn’t a secret that many players in the drone industry love an acronym and, while it might mean something other pilots, we at DSR want to make hiring a drone as easy as possible so we’re always happy to bust an acronym where we can!

Today, we’re looking at OSC in business practices.

If you’ve been looking at hiring a drone pilot, you’re likely to have come across the term ‘Operating Safety Case‘ or ‘OSC‘.  From this title, it’s not exactly clear what the meaning is so here we go with the explanation.

In order to be able to operate legally on a commercial basis in the UK and Ireland, a pilot needs two things before they can start…

  1. Valid commercial drone insurance

  2. The PfCO qualification from the CAA

The PfCO qualification is issued by the CAA following completion of training (both theoretical and practical) and the submission and assessment of an Operations Manual.  This manual has to be updated and resubmitted every year to reflect both changes in legislation and also business practices.

The Operations Manual is created by each pilot to be specific to their business but there are a standard set of PfCO rules of everyone.  These cover issues such as Visual Line of Sight (a pilots needs to be able to see their craft when it’s in the air), and the distances that must be kept from people, property, vessels and structures when the drone is in operation.  In some circumstances, these standard conditions would mean that drone operation is just impossible.  For example, if the standard distances for operation were applied, no flights in London would ever be legally allowed.

This is where the OSC comes in. For example, a pilot who regularly needs to fly within reduced distances may apply to the CAA for an OSC. In this, they would demonstrate the additional measures that they would put in place to mean that they reduced distanced would still be safe.  This might be additional staff to act as ‘spotters’, physical barriers around the take off and landing zones etc.  If the CAA believe that meeting these additional conditions means the flight activity would be safe, they can grant the OSC. This becomes part of the Operations Manual and so is resubmitted and assessed annually.

It’s worth stating however that you can’t get an OSC for everything – so there’s no special permissions that would allow you take off from land without permission or film in a way that infringes someone else’s privacy rights. So if a pilot is promising that, then it’s a fair bet that they’re not operating legally. Any DSR or other legal pilot will be more than happy to show you their documentation – in fact we have a sample PfCO you can see in another of our acronym-busting blog posts here. 

DSR are the first national body to work directly the the CAA to obtain an OSC which selected members of our pilot network can operate under. We’re very proud to have been able to achieve this and, although it is still in its trial phase, our ultimate goal is to be able to offer a DSR OSC pilot in every county.


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About the Author: DSR Journalist

Henry Greenshields