How to get an RPAS Operator Certificate and start your drone business in the PhilippinesAlexa from the Philippine Drone Network
Drones have become massively popular and common in the Philippines over the last few years.
Both consumer and commercial-level quadcopters and fixed-wing drones are so easy to find (and buy) today that it’s not a surprise that more people are wanting to get serious and make a business out of their hobby.
How to become a professional drone pilot: Get certified by the CAAP
The good news is, the The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the industry regulator that all commercial drone operators follow, is extremely supportive of new businesses. They will actually help you throughout the certification process and aren’t just there to audit you, so don’t be intimidated!
To start your own business flying drones, you first need to get an Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Operator Certificate.
The CAAP will award this to you when you meet all their requirements, and will give you the authority to operate drones and UAVs for commercial purposes.
If you’re looking to become a licensed drone pilot instead, click here to learn how to apply and get an RPAS Controller Certificate in the Philippines.
What UAV services can you provide with an RPA Operator Certificate in the Philippines?
You need to be fully certified by the CAAP before you start earning money for ANY drone or UAV services. These include:
- Aerial Mapping like topographic surveys
- Professional aerial video/photo documentation for TV, commercials, and movies
- Agricultural drone surveys for farms like crop monitoring or pest spraying
- Training courses for pilots and drone operation
Follow the steps in the infographic below to understand the process and get started on your operator certification:
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How to apply for an RPAS Operator Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
1. Register your organization and get a business permit
Before you even think of applying to the CAAP as a drone operator, you need to have the documents that all local businesses and commercial organizations need. This includes:
- DTI Permit or SEC Permit – You can apply for these online. DTI is for sole proprietors and SEC for partnerships and corporations. This is where you secure your official business name.
- Barangay Permit & Municipal Business Permit – Make sure you already have your DTI or SEC Permit when applying for these. This is not required by the CAAP, but you will need it to operate as a business.
- BIR Form 2303 – This will assign your business its official tax identification number (TIN) and allow you to charge fees and operate commercially. This also won’t be submitted to the CAAP, but is still important to get.
2. Get an RPAS Controller Certificate for at least 1 drone pilot for your business
3. Register and get an RPAS Registration Certificate for at least 1 drone your business will use
4. Write a Letter of Intent
Address the letter to the Flight Standard Inspectory Service (FSIS) Assistant Director General II. Make sure you describe your organization here and talk about why you want to get certified, what your services are, and that you will follow all safety and CAAP regulations.
5. Fill out the Pre-Application Statement of Intent (PASI) Form
Download the form online at https://caap.gov.ph/aoc-forms
6. Submit both your letter and PASI Form at the CAAP office
The CAAP building is at Old MIA Road, Pasay City 1300.
7. Optional: Schedule a meeting with FSIS
The FSIS and other CAAP personnel are very supportive and are there to help you start your business. You may want to request for a meeting with them to get advice on the registration process and requirements.
8. Wait for FSIS to respond and let you move to the next stage
While waiting, prepare the following documents you will need to submit later:
- Your organization’s Operations Manual and Training Manual
- User’s Manual from the manufacturer of your RPAS
- RPAS Insurance/Third Party Liability
- SEC or DTI registration
- Your organizational chart with management and staff
- RPAS Certificate of Registration from CAAP
- Photocopy of your primary Controller Certificate and their resume
- Pictures of your facilities and equipment
- Copy of the official receipt
- Special Certificate of Airworthiness (applicable for very large drones/RPAS)
- Civil Aeronautics Board Franchise (applicable for agricultural purposes)
- Lease/Service Contract between contractor and agriculture company (applicable for agricultural purposes)
9. Submit all documents at the CAAP office, then wait for their response.
FSIS is very helpful and will give you feedback if your documents are incomplete or do not meet industry standards. They will tell you what else you need to get and will let you resubmit requirements for your certification.
10. Pass inspections to be conducted by CAAP
- Safety inspection of all your facilities and equipment
- Organizational inspection of your staff and management responsibilities
- RPAS inspection where you will need to demonstrate your services while being observed. They will evaluate if you follow the operational procedures and safety policies in the operations and training manuals that you submitted
- Personal inspection of your qualifications if you are able to meet your responsibilities
11. Make any necessary changes or improvements based on feedback from the CAAP inspectors
Take note of all feedback and comments made by CAAP during your inspections. You will have a chance to make improvements if you don’t pass any of the inspections. Again, the FSIS and CAAP personnel are there to help. Make sure to ask questions if you are not sure what you need to do next.
12. Get your official RPAS Operator Certificate.
Congratulations! You are now recognised by the CAAP and earn money flying drones for your business.
Got questions about how to register your drone business?
For any questions or clarifications, you can leave a comment below or send us a message at [email protected]