Getting Your FAA Remote Pilot Certificate
Q: How do I become a U.S. commercially licensed drone pilot?
Q: Who is eligible to take the FAA written aeronautical knowledge drone test?
Q: How much does the aeronautical knowledge test cost?
Q: How long does it take to become a certified drone pilot?
Q: How often will I have to take the FAA written drone test?
Q: Do I have to pass a medical exam to fly a drone commercially?
Q: What if I already have a manned aircraft pilot license?
Q: When will this FAA aeronautical knowledge drone test become available for me to take?
Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test Prep
Q: Will your course help me pass the aeronautical knowledge drone test?
Q: What topics does your course cover?
Q: How long will this course take me to complete?
Q: How long do I have access to the course for?
Q: What’s the price of Drone Pilot Ground School?
Q: Do you guarantee that I’ll pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test?
Q: Are you an FAA-certified school?
Q: Wait, do I really need to learn all this stuff?
Q: When and where do I take this course? How do I access it?
Q: Who’s the teacher? Can I contact him or her directly?
How do I become a U.S. commercially licensed drone pilot?
Since 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has required commercial drone operators in the United States to hold a Section 333 Exemption. As the industry blossomed in 2014-2015, gaining the attention of early industry adopters and drone pilot entrepreneurs, many were challenged by the Section 333 Exemption process.
From having to wait upwards of 7 months for their exemption petition to get approved to also needing to hold a traditional manned aircraft pilot license (sport, recreational, private, transport, or commercial), thousands of commercial drone pilots have struggled to push their businesses forward.
On June 21st, 2016, the FAA finalized a new regulatory framework for small unmanned aerial systems. Titled Part 107, these new regulations effectively create a new drone certification process that covers the majority of low-risk, commercial sUAS flight operations.
That’s great, but what does Part 107 say about becoming a certified drone pilot?
Among other parameters, commercial drone operators will be required to:
- Pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test at one of around 700 FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States (this list last updated May 2017). That’s what our Drone Pilot Ground School course prepares you for.
- Apply for and obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, this never expires).
- Pass a background check by the Transportation Security Administration (this vetting happens automatically during your application process).
- 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.
Want to learn more about Part 107?
For those who need to operate outside the flight and mission parameters of Part 107, you’ll need to gain additional permission from the FAA through a waiver process. Things like flying at night, operating beyond visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS), etc.
Who is eligible to take the FAA written aeronautical knowledge drone test?
Anyone over the age of 16 who is interested in becoming a commercial sUAS / drone pilot. You must also be proficient in English and in a physical and mental condition to safely operate an sUAS.
Getting your drone pilot license is one of the easiest ways to get into the aviation industry.
Of course, saying that it’s easy doesn’t do your training justice. You’ll want to put in a significant number of hours of studying and learning about things like weather, sUAS flight and emergency operations and the National Airspace System. And while there’s no formal requirement to do so, you’ll also want to log dozens of flight hours across a variety of simulators and drone systems. You’ll probably also want to buy drone insurance or consult a drone lawyer if you plan to do client work.
Don’t just pass the test. Embrace what it means to operate sUAS safely and professionally.
But as far as passing your Part 107 sUAS aeronautical knowledge exam?
As long as you’re over the age of 16, you’ll be eligible.
How much does the aeronautical knowledge test cost?
The cost of the Remote Pilot Certification aeronautical knowledge test is $150. Remember, this is the test that you take in-person at one of the 696 FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States. This money doesn’t go to us, or to the FAA. It’s paid directly to the knowledge testing center when you’re scheduling your testing appointment.
How long does it take to become a certified drone pilot?
After you pass your Aeronautical Knowledge Test, you’ll need to wait up to 48 hours to apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate using the FAA’s online IACRA system. After you send in your application, you’ll go through automatic TSA security vetting, and then assuming you pass that, you’ll receive a temporary electronic Remote Pilot Certificate.
Here’s a short video I shot of me going through the process:
The FAA anticipates that, while it may take the FAA 6 to 8 weeks to issue a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate via snail mail, a temporary remote pilot certificate can be issued in about 10 business days. The temporary Remote Pilot Certificate will allow the certificate holder to exercise all the privileges of the certificate, thus significantly reducing the waiting period prior to being able to operate as a remote pilot in command under part 107.
How often will I have to take the FAA written drone test?
You’ll need to pass an initial written drone test, and then you’ll need to pass a recurring exam every 24 months. The recurring exam doesn’t require proficiency in as many knowledge areas as the initial exam.
What if I already have a manned aircraft pilot license?
Great question. If you:
- Hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61; and
- Have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months,
Then our training course isn’t for you. You need to complete a (free) online training course called “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451” available on the FAA FAASTeam website.
After you successfully complete that course, you then complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate), validate your applicant identity, and make an in-person appointment with your local FSDO, an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) to sign your form.
Do I have to pass a medical exam to fly a drone commercially?
No, you do not. There is no medical exam required to operate a drone under Part 107. It’s up to the pilot to determine whether or not he or she is physically and mentally able to fly.
How can you schedule and take your FAA aeronautical knowledge drone test?
The FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test (AKT) is administered on a rolling basis at roughly 700 testing facilities all over the U.S. I usually tell our students to schedule the test at least a week ahead of when you need to take it. Most of the testing centers are relatively small, and while demand isn’t overwhelming, it’s the kind of thing you need to schedule ahead of time.
Here’s some basic information about the test:
- It’s an objective, multiple-choice test.
- There are 60 questions, with three responses (A, B, and C) per question.
- Each test question is independent of other questions; therefore, a correct response to one does not depend upon, or influence, the correct response to another.
- Some questions may require visual references, like airspace maps or charts.
- The minimum passing score is 70% (meaning, you’ll need to get at least 42 questions right).
- You’re allowed two hours to complete the test.
Here’s a breakdown of the questions, by knowledge topic:
When you’re ready to take your test, here’s how you can schedule it.
Both companies administer the test, but not at all of the locations, so you’ll need to match your preferred location with the right company, then either visit the website of that company or call them to book. You can try calling the test center locally, but they’ll likely refer you to either CATS or LaserGrade to actually book.
So how do you match your preferred testing location?
Look at the site ID in the PDF, and if the location code is preceded with the letters ‘ABS’, contact CATS at 1-800-947-4228 to schedule your test. If the site ID is preceded with the letters ‘LAS’, contact LaserGrade at 1-800-211-2753.
The phone number adjacent to the testing facility address will put you in touch with the test proctor at the actual testing location. You can find out specific information such as how soon to arrive before testing begins, if calculators are provided, etc. This phone number is NOT used to schedule your test date.
Will your course help me pass the aeronautical knowledge drone test?
Yes, that’s one of our goals. So far, more than 99% of our students pass the test on their first attempt.
While there are other online and in-person drone training programs available on the market, Drone Pilot Ground School was specifically built to help you prepare for and to successfully pass your FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
Of course, we care about much more than you simply passing the FAA’s test. This course was designed to help you to adopt a “pilot mindset” and to prepare you to become a U.S. licensed commercial drone operator. Passing a test is step one. Building confidence as a pilot through safe operations and decision-making is an ongoing process.
What topics does your course cover?
Our course includes 30+ lectures that cover the topics that the FAA has outlined in their UAS Airman Certification Standards, plus bonus topics that you should master in order to be a responsible and knowledgeable drone pilot. Therefore, our lectures cover a wide variety of topics, including::
- Drone Aircraft Systems
- sUAS Flight Operations
- National Airspace System (NAS)
- Drone Laws & FAA Regulations
- Weather & Micrometeorology
How long will this course take me to complete?
You should budget about 15-20 hours of studying and reviewing. Give yourself at least 2-3 weeks to go through the course. Save time for taking notes, for reaching out to our instructor with questions, and for going through practice quizzes and tests.
How long do I have access to the course for?
To keep your Remote Pilot License current with the FAA, you’ll need to pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months. Our students get unlimited access to our online training course for 5 years. That’s enough time for two re-certifications.
What’s the price of Drone Pilot Ground School?
The price of our self-paced, online training course is $299. That’s a one-time fee and includes access to 30+ lectures, to practice quizzes, and to five different practice tests.
Do you guarantee that I’ll pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test?
We’ve built a rigorous curriculum in partnership with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), and we strongly believe that our training methodology does an excellent job preparing you to pass your test and to get your Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.
However, the rest is up to you. We expect our students to put in at least 15-20 hours of studying, and to reach out to our support team with questions along the way.
After gathering more than 500 student survey responses from August to October 2016, we calculated that over 99% of our students pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test on their first attempt.
Are you an FAA-certified school?
At the moment, when it comes to getting your Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, you do NOT need to go through a traditional FAA Part 141-licensed manned aircraft training school.
In fact, many of these Part 141 schools don’t have any kind of drone training available!
As long as you’re over the age of 16, you can sign up to take the Aeronautical Knowledge Test. You do not need any kind of school endorsement or certificate to do that. Our course is just one of many options that you have to study for that test.
Directly from the FAA:
While an instructor endorsement is generally required for part 61 pilot certificates, the significantly reduced risk associated with small UAS operations conducted under part 107 would make this framework unduly burdensome in this case. Instead, a stand-alone knowledge test is sufficient to verify the qualification of the remote pilot certificate applicant.
Wait, do I really need to learn all this stuff?
Not only are you required to pass a FAA written drone test that covers these exact concepts, but even more importantly, you’ll simply want to know these concepts if you plan to be taken seriously as a commercial drone pilot, and if you want to show others that you’re safe and competent and understand the airspace you’re operating in.
The sooner you start adopting a pilot mindset, the better for all of us in the sUAS industry.
You know, things like:
- Following a pre-flight checklist before every flight
- Understanding your sUAS failsafes and everything that can go wrong during flight
- How to set up and manage different commercial sUAS flight operations
- What kind of environments you’re allowed and not allowed to operate in as per Part 107
- How to communicate with Air Traffic Control (ATC) if you plan to operate outside of Class G airspace
When and where do I take your training course? How do I access it?
It’s a self-paced online course that is accessible 24/7 from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
Who’s the teacher? Can I contact him or her directly?
Your instructor for this course is Alan Perlman. Yes, you can reach him directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can call the support line at (888) 382-8053.