As of July 26, 2018, more than 100,000 people have obtained a Remote Pilot Certificate to fly a drone for commercial and recreational use since the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) small drone rule went into effect on August 29, 2016.
A Milestone for the Drone Industry
We mark the certification of 100,000 remote pilots as a huge milestone for the drone industry. The speedy increase in the number of certified drone pilots over the past two years indicates a rapidly growing industry — much of which has been driven by increasing commercial drone applications in industries such as construction, engineering, government, agriculture, and transportation.
According to an annual report by Skyward, commercial drone use will double in the near future, from 10% to almost 20%. Some describe this explosion of drone technology in the commercial sector as the third wave of the drone industry and as a mark of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is because drone technology has disrupted the usual standard operating procedures of many industries, in many cases creating safer and more efficient procedures and processes.
Pilot Certification by the Numbers (U.S.)
Based on figures last reported in 2017, the number of certified drone pilots in the U.S. was 69,166. Drone pilot certificates accounted for approximately 10% of all pilot certificates held in 2017. Here is a look at the totals, calculated based on the FAA’s 2017 Active Civil Airmen Statistics.
|Category||Estimated Active Airmen Certificates Held|
|Airplane, Airline Transport||159,825|
|Remote (Drone) Pilots||69,166|
Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification
Commercial drone pilots operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) weighing under 55 pounds operate under the Part 107 Small UAS Rule. Under Part 107, the person actually flying a drone must have a Remote Pilot Certificate, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. The majority of drone pilots get certified by studying online materials and then passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA approved knowledge testing center.
Drone Pilot Ground School (DPGS) has crafted an online prep course to help you study for the aeronautical knowledge test and walk you through the process of how to get your certification. While the FAA sports an exam success rate of 92%, students who prepare for the exam with DPGS have a 99% success rate! Hear what one of our DPGS had to say about his experience:
Before Drone Pilot Ground School, I started to prepare for my Part 107 with the paperwork from FAA.gov, and I was crazy overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start. I then researched some online courses for learning about drones and Part 107. That’s when I found DPGS, and I couldn’t be any more happy with my experience. I passed my Part 107 yesterday with flying colors, and it is all thanks to Drone Pilot Ground School! I would recommend this to anybody like me who has no pilot training or in-depth drone knowledge. I will be referring to this site over the years with my drone usage and licensing. And I’ve already recommended it to friends who are interested in using drones commercially. Thank you very much!
— Drone Pilot Ground School Student Review
How to Get Your Drone Pilot License Under The Part 107 Rule
For first time pilots, to become a licensed drone pilot under Part 107, you are required to:
- Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at one of around 700 FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States. That’s what the DPGS Part 107 training course prepares you for.
- Undergo Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening
- Obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
- Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
- Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage over $500.
- Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
Have more questions about how to get your drone pilot license? Visit our Drone Certification Guide — a step-by-step guide to FAA Part 107 for U.S. commercial drone pilots.
Drone Pilot Certification Renewal
It’s important to remember that a Remote Pilot Certificate is valid for two years from the date of issue. Anyone who earned their certificate at the end of August or in September 2016 should review the certification renewal requirements and prepare to take recurrent training or testing.
If you already hold a Part 107 certificate, but do not hold a Part 61 certificate, you are required to take the recurrent Part 107 Knowledge Test at a testing facility within 24 calendar months of your initial certification to continue to exercise the privileges of your Part 107 certificate.
If you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate, and have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months, you have the option to take a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA to obtain your certificate.
For further guidance, visit our article about the details of the recurrent testing and recertification process.
Congratulations to all who obtained their Remote Pilot Certificate over the past two years, and were one of the first 100,000 people to receive their certifications!