FAA Part 107 Certification
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for flying an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for non-recreational purposes are known as FAA Part 107.
To operate the controls of a drone under FAA Part 107 you need a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate.
A certified drone pilot must:
Be at least 16 years old
Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English
Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a drone
Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)"
Rules for recreational flyers are different. If you fly your drone under the Exception for Recreational Flyers , Federal law still requires you pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). The exception for recreational flyers only applies to flights that are purely for fun or personal enjoyment. When in doubt, fly under Part 107.
The largest hurdle to become a drone pilot under FAA Part 107 is the initial aeronautical knowledge test. You can prepare for the test by taking an online class, or you can cull existing material from the internet. Expect to study 20-40 hours in preparation for taking the test. The materials here suggest one person's path to passing the test.
What's on the test?
The FAA test will cover material that often seems geared more toward professional airplane pilots. In addition to rote memorization of regulations, you need to understand content like FAA airspace and decision-making factors. By gaining a thorough understanding of the test material and implementing recommended FAA practices, you will become a confident, skilled drone professional.
The initial aeronautical knowledge test topic areas include:
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
Crew resource management
Radio communication procedures
Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
Operation at night
FAA Test Material
These FAA websites, while sometimes redundant, explicitly state what can be on the Part 107 test.
FAA Remote Pilot Study Guide
Start here. Don't be overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the content. A big chunk of the test is about reading sectional charts, so understand airspace. You require a 70% test score to earn your Part 107 certificate. Peruse the Study Guide and start studying topics that interests you most.
Advisory Circle contains "specific rules for the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)."
This advisory circular (AC) provides guidance in the areas of airman (remote pilot) certification, aircraft registration and marking, aircraft airworthiness, and the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) to promote compliance with the requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. It does not provide, nor is it intended to provide, a legal interpretation of the regulations. Remote pilots are encouraged to use this information as best practice methods for developing operational programs scaled to specific small unmanned aircraft (UA), associated system equipment, and operations
Topics covered in the test
In fulfilling its responsibilities for the airman certification process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards Service (AFS) plans, develops, and maintains materials related to airman certification testing. These materials include several components. The FAA knowledge test measures mastery of the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 89 and 107. Other materials, such as airman knowledge testing supplements in the FAA- CT-8080 series and FAA online training, provide guidance to applicants on aeronautical knowledge and risk management.
The FAA recognizes that safe operations in today's complex National Airspace System (NAS) require a more systematic integration of aeronautical knowledge and risk management. The FAA further recognizes the need to more clearly calibrate knowledge and risk management to the level of the Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating.
The ACS integrates the elements of knowledge and risk management in 14 CFR parts 89 and 107 for a Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating. It thus forms the comprehensive standard for what an applicant knows and considers to successfully complete each Task tested on the knowledge test.
Part 107 within United States Code
Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement
When you sit for the test you will be provided this booklet, to which test questions will refer. You don't need to memorize all the contents, but you do need to know where to find the relevant material.
Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
Additional reference material for all pilots, dubbed "Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures." Much of the content is superfluous for drone pilots.
Sample questions for the Unmanned Aircraft General tests.
Some companies that offer test preparation classes also provide some content online for free. For example...
The Drone Coach
Tony Northrup Study Guide
Drone Pilot Ground School
In the meantime, practice flying with a toy drone. The two control knobs that maneuver the toy drone perform the same functions on a professional drone in Mode 2. So make your mistakes on the inexpensive toy, first. For example, try basic drone exercises suggested by students of Project Ilios.
Chuck Bueter tested for and received FAA Part 107 certification in anticipation of changes to Indiana state law regarding solar energy and net metering. In 2022 he completed a Scanifly Surveyor Associate Program for solar energy applications. Some 2022 projects using drones are listed below.
Michiana Star Party-12
The Clubhouse-South Bend
Paramount Schools of Excellence
Invasive Plants Survey
Near Northwest Neighborhood
South Bend Racquet Club
La Casa de Amistad
Good Shepherd Montessori School
La Casa de Amistad- South Roof
Saint Pius X
La Casa de Amistad
La Casa de Amistad- North Roof
HOA Retention Pond