How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots)

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This page is a how-to guide on getting your Part 107 certificate based upon my knowledge as a current FAA certificated flight instructor (CFI & CFII) and aviation attorney. There are two sections to this page: (1) instructions for first time pilots and (2) instructions for current manned aircraft pilots. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter if you want to receive blog posts like this in your email. Keep checking back to this post as I update testing and IACRA availability.

This is part of an overall Part 107 blog series.

How first-time pilots can obtain their Part 107 certificate.

drone pilot licenseYou cannot take the Part 107 exam until at least August 29, 2016. You’ll have to take the exam at a knowledge testing center. Note: if you took a test on the FAA’s website and received a certificate like what is on the right, this is NOT a Part 107 initial knowledge test for new pilots. That test is only for current manned aircraft pilots transitioning over to drones.

To become a drone pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at a FAA-approved knowledge testing center

Here is your immediate plan of action. Do these steps in the exact order of how they appear in this list:

  1. Immediately schedule a time to take the FAA Part 107 knowledge test at one of the testing sites.
    1. Figure out which test site. There are currently 696 of these centers around the world.
    2. Find out the site ID. LAS = PSI/ Laser Grade  ABS = CATS
    3. NOTE: At this moment PSI/Laser Grade and CATS are NOT scheduling for the test. So until this changes, go to the next step.

      1. CATS – E-mail a request to pre-registration@catstest.com including your name and contact number, with “UAS” in the subject line. I was told they will reach out to you in order of which the email was received. (But I wouldn’t rely on that).
      2. PSI/Laser Grade just told me to call them back. They said they would have a tentative go date by 8/1.
    4. Call: (Note the earliest you can schedule this is around August 27.)
      1. (CATS) Computer Assisted Testing Service 1-800-947-4228
      2. PSI / LaserGrade 1-800-211-2753
    5. PSI Testing Centers and CATS Testing Centers have ways to register online.
  2. Start studying.
    1. Read the 3-page Part 107 Summary.
    2. Go, download, and read the latest edition of Part 107. The regulations start on page 590. Anytime you have a question about something, make a note and keep reading. The large majority of the whole document is the FAA repeating the comments made to the NPRM and the FAA’s response and rational for the regulation. Treat it like the FAA’s commentary on the individual regulations. Anytime you have an issue with a particular word or regulation, use the ctrl + f function in Adobe to find the relative sections that discuss the key term you are interested in.
    3. Read the Advisory Circular to Part 107 Notice that the advisory circular has parts that parallel the parts in Part 107 to help answer any questions you have about the regulations.
    4. Take the course that the FAA developed for the current manned aircraft pilots. Go to faasafety.gov and take course “ALC-451”. It will take about 2 hours to really study this and the material.
    5. Start studying these areas below while continuing on through 3 and 4. The FAA has some sections on these topics in their Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
      • Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
      • Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
      • Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
      • Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
      • Emergency procedures
      • Crew resource management
      • Radio communication procedures
      • Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
      • Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
      • Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
      • Airport operations
      • Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
  1. Now that you know what the rules are, make a business plan for operations under Part 107. Go back and skim over thePart 107 Summary and read about Part 107 waivers (COAs). You might want to branch out into non-107 types of operations.
  2. Once you have figured out what types of industries and operations you plan on doing, you should spend this time:
    • Building or updating your website.
    • Buying the aircraft or practicing flying your current aircraft.
    • Obtaining insurance for the aircraft that will perform the operations.
    • Finding an attorney for each of the particular areas of law listed below. You may not need the lawyer right away but you have time to calmly make decisions now as opposed to rapidly making decisions in the future when your business is growing. You won’t have time in the future as you do now. Put their numbers in your phone. Ideally, you should have a retainer/ billing relationship set up to get answers rapidly.
      • Business / tax – (Preferably both)
      • Aviation – (my cell is (561)222-6979 and email is jon@jruprechtlaw.com )
      • Criminal – (in case you get arrested because of some drone ordinance you stumbled upon).
  1. Take the Part 107 initial knowledge test.
  2. (Note: 8710-13 is not up on IACRA at the moment). Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA).iacra
    • Register using the FAA IACRA system
    • Login with username and password
    • Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot,” 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot,” 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
    • Follow application prompts
    • When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID (NOTE: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
    • Sign the application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.
  3. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.
  4. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all the other FAA internal processing is complete.

 

cockpitHow current manned aircraft pilots can obtain their Part 107 remote pilot certificate

You may be either a sport, recreational, private, commercial, or air transport pilot. You CANNOT be a student pilot. Additionally, the pilot must have completed a flight review according to 14 C.F.R. § 61.56.

Suggested Course of Study:

  1. Read the 3-page Part 107 Summary.
  2. Go, download, and read the latest edition of Part 107. The regulations start on page 590. Anytime you have a question about something, make a note and keep reading. The large majority of the whole document is the FAA repeating the comments made to the NPRM and the FAA’s response and rational for the regulation. Treat it like the FAA’s commentary on the individual regulations. Anytime you have an issue with a particular word or regulation, use the ctrl + f function in Adobe to find the relative sections that discuss the key term you are interested in.
  3. Read the Advisory Circular to Part 107 Notice that the advisory circular has parts that parallel the parts in Part 107 to help answer any questions you have about the regulations.

Application Process:

  1. Complete the online training course “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451” available on the FAA FAASTeam website– initial training course areas include:
  2. (Note: 8710-13 is not on IACRA yet) Complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate)iacra
    1. Online at IACRA or by paper
    2. Validate applicant identity on IACRA.
    3. Contact a FSDO, a FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or a FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) to make an appointment to validate your identity. I would suggest doing this with the FSDO because the inspector can give you a temporary certificate at the same time! Look up your local FSDOand make an appointment. Note: FSDO’s almost always do not take walk-ins.
    4. Present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online course completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of a current flight review.
    5. The completed FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by the applicant after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines the applicant’s photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity.
      • The identification presented must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form of identification.
      • Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military identification cards (see AC 61-65 Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors)
    6. The FAA representative will then sign the application.
  1. An appropriate FSDO representative, a FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE), or an airman certification representative (ACR) will issue the applicant a temporary airman certificate (a CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate; they can process applications for applicants who do not want a temporary certificate).
  2. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA internal processing is complete.

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If you need legal services or want to set up enterprise operations to get all your in-house pilots certified, fleet and pilot management, or crew training, contact me at jon@jrupprechtlaw.com or (561)222-6979 to help with those needs. I work with many other certified aviation professionals to help large companies integrate drones into their operations to be profitable and legal. When looking for aviation law help, don’t hire a poser – hire an attorney who is a pilot. 

-reposed form jrupprechtlaw.com

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