Drone Training! Online or Live and in Person? Which is best?

This is a question we get asked repeatedly in our capacity as a CAA accredited commercial drone training academy.

There are now over 40 NQE’s all offering a slightly different flavor of training, some online only, some hybrid, some classroom based and some purely face to face. So, the questions remain which of these options is best for you? Let’s have a look at the bare bones of the most common options and try to come to some kind of conclusion!

Online only training

Online only training says what it does on the tin. These learning systems consist of a series of different videos normally delivered via video on a learning management platform. The student sits and watches these video’s and normally and completed a pop quiz at the end of each module.


  • It is convenient, and you can complete the course in your own time, around your existing work

  • You don’t have to travel anywhere other than for your theory examination and practical assessment

  • They are generally a lot cheaper than classroom-based courses


  • Its easy to fall into bad habits and not take in all the information

  • You don’t have an instructor to ask questions and classmates to bond with

  • You can completely misunderstand what you are being taught and not know the difference

  • It’s far harder to gain real understanding from online learning as it lacks practical elements

  • Online courses are very often out of date and do not reflect current law/best practice

  • The systems are very often full of bugs and don’t work properly

Classroom Based Learning

When attending classroom-based learning sessions the student travels to their chosen NQE and attends a 2-5-day ground school. Modules are presented in PowerPoint style onto screens and the student listens intently whilst making notes. The student then sits a theory examination and attends a practical flight assessment.


  • You get a better learning experience and get to draw on the knowledge of seasoned professionals

  • You can ask questions and gain a greater level of understanding

  • You form friendships and start networks that can help you throughout your entire career


  • Class sizes can be huge, sometimes up to 30 students depleting the learning experience

  • Some courses are based on learning by wrote, can be quite boring and shorten attention spans

  • A lot of instructors come from a manned aviation background and teach material that is irrelevant. Whilst this experience is great, you need to know about unmanned aviation, this doesn’t help you.

  • Large class sizes can present a ‘sausage factory’ style environment making it harder to learn anything of value


So whats the answer! Online training just doesn’t offer the same opportunity that face to face does, but classroom-based training has its own issues!

Well I cannot answer for other NQE’s but here’s our take.

First, we cap our class sizes at 8-10 people and you very often get two instructors. Our presentations are focused on unmanned operations and are interspersed with practical exercises humor and student engagement so that delegates are not just talked at. We also see ourselves a business school for drone pilots and not just an NQE. We can offer courses in

  • Sales and marketing for commercial drone operators

  • Surveying, mapping, photogrammetry

  • Congested area operations

  • Aerial photography and cinematography

  • PfCO Refresher Courses

We also offer free mentoring, engage with our students long-term and make their success our number one priority. We teach them that just like any business being a commercial operator requires hard work, persistence and professionalism (not that they will be millionaires inside a year) Its just basic honesty, integrity and a great team on hand to impart knowledge that brings success.

Our team are driven by a love for what they do and their pride at being somewhat different from the mainstream.

To find out more about what we do, call us on 01353 780766 or email ian@prodroneacademy.co.uk

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