I will just start the FAQ with one ( ) answer to a question I have seen over and over:
Q: How is CQC presented in game? How do I take part?
A: CQC is its very own mode. It appears in the game menu inside the start menu under the three other modes Open, Private, and Solo.
While playing CQC you are NOT in the Elite: Dangerous galaxy, more like in an additional simulator inside the game.
You can play CQC no matter where your ships are or your Commander is in game. CQC is a game inside the game.