Ground School - Aeronautical Knowledge Course

SUA License Courses

This residential grouns school course familiarises applicants with those aspects of aeronautical knowledge referred to in IAA Aeronautical Notice U.02, Appendix 1. Completion of this course satisfies the IAA requirement that candidates should ‘complete thorough ground instruction delivered by personnel with appropriate experience and/or qualifications’ prior to submission of an application for an SUA Pilots License and for 'Specific Operating Permission'.

Teaching Activities

The SUA Licences Course consists of eight Aeronautical Knowledge lecture sessions entitled:

1) Aviation Regulations and SUA Operations.

This module examines the impact of civil and aviation regulations on SUA activity and defines the Irish Aviation Authority’s role as the body responsible for enforcing regulations.

2) Meteorology for SUA Operators.

The rudiments of meteorology must be understood if a SUA operator is to make sound operational decisions, particularly where topographic effects on low-level atmospheric conditions must be taken into consideration. Material in this module focusses on low-level atmospheric phenomena that impact line-of-sight SUA operations and on where to obtain and how to interpret weather forecasts.

3) Aircraft Knowledge - Flight Control, Telemetry and Navigation Systems.

Knowledge of the principles underlying radio remote control, telemetry systems and navigation systems is essential to RPAS operators. If SUA are to be employed safely and effectively, limitations of underlying technologies must be respected.

4) Principles of Flight.

In order for remote pilots to anticipate the behaviour of an unmanned aircraft in response to control inputs, certain fundamental aeronautical concepts must be understood. This module introduces basic aerodynamic theory to the extent needed for students to undertake flight training with confidence and to appreciate the manner in which external factors (wind, turbulence, air density, temperature) impact aircraft behaviour.

5) Airspace Operating Principles.

This module studies the principles that govern the classification of airspace, the use of charts and planning procedures and interaction with standard aviation practices. It covers all aspects of why we conduct operations and conform to procedures inside and outside of Controlled Airspace plus informs students of the importance of the methods of interacting with the Irish Aviation Authority and Air Traffic Control.

6) SUA Operations: Human Factor Risks. 

This module examines human factors that can disrupt SUA operations such as human errors, fatigue and stress and shows how to recognise the onset of these factors.

7) Operational Procedures.

Here we go into detail describing how to plan for SUA missions, what to do if things go wrong and how to address more complex issues such as Risk Assessment. Procedures for actually conducting the flight and best methods of dealing with the public are all covered ensuring regulatory compliance and Flight Safety.

8) Airmanship/CRM. 

All professional aviators act in a manner consistant with best practise gained from others experiences. Good airmanship relies on good briefings and knowing how to interact with all crew members. This module explains the thinking behind well established and proven behaviour traits while operating as a part of an SUA crew.

9) Emergencies.

No matter how good we plan our missions or how confident we are things do not go as expected from time to time. Our Remotely Piloted Aircraft is the product of human development and assembly so failures due to various reasons do happen. This module will inform students what to look out for and how to deal with technical failures.


The course is to be taught over two consecutive days. Lecture sessions are programmed for all of the first day and the morning of the second day. Candidates will take the end of course  examination on the afternoon of the second day. 


This course is examined by a ninety question multiple choice answer examination. The test comprises of six sets of fifteen questions, each group of questions relating to one taught topic. The overall pass-mark for the examination is 80% (three incorrect answers in each set of questions); however candidates must answer correctly at least eleven questions in every group. The examination may be taken at any time within six months of course completion. It is expected that candidates will elect to sit the examination immediately following the course. 


On successful completion of the course and examination the candidate is awarded a Course Completion Certificate. This certificate will be acceptable to the IAA and should be presented to the Authority or approved Examiner during the process of applying for an Aerial Work Permission.