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)"

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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

  • 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

  • Operation at night

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FAA Test Material

These FAA websites, while sometimes redundant, explicitly state what can be on the Part 107 test. 

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/media/remote_pilot_study_guide.pdf

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.


https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_107-2.pdf

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


https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/media/uas_acs.pdf

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.


https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-107

Part 107 within United States Code
 

https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/supplements/media/sport_rec_private_akts.pdf

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.

https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/aim.pdf

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.

https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/test_questions/media/uag_questions.pdf

Sample questions for the Unmanned Aircraft General tests.

Online Instruction

Some companies that offer test preparation classes also provide some content online for free.  For example...

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdQb_m5NpoKFu5gz6vkQar3ecouY_jlW7

The Drone Coach

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_ucCKFJUCU

Tony Northrup Study Guide

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9H5G4OY05CQGuF6EUfL0L5Rz-zMu80-k

Pilot Institute

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpzF81imgV0umS0HGbCjS1A

Altitude University

https://www.dronepilotgroundschool.com

Drone Pilot Ground School

Toy Around

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. 

Drone Projects

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.

farrand-road

Farrand Hall

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Michiana Star Party-12

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Invasive Plants Survey

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La Casa de Amistad

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Good Shepherd Montessori School

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Sibley Center

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La Casa de Amistad

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