How To Get A Drone Pilot Licence

Nowadays there are plentiful opportunities to make money from flying a drone, with many people in the US opting to become Certified Drone Pilots so they can fly small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for work or business. Maybe you’re wanting to work in aerial photography, surveying, videography, or advertising with your drone? To do this, you need to become an FAA Certificated Drone Pilot. It’s a simple process to become a recreational or commercial drone pilot – here’s all you need to know about getting your Licence below.

Recreational and Commercial – What Type of Drone Licence do I Need?

Everyone who flies a drone needs to be certified under one of these two FAA distinctions:

  1. Recreational flyer. If you just fly your drone for fun, you need to follow the rules for recreational flyers and take the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). You also need to carry your TRUST certificate whenever you fly. Luckily, this is a straightforward online test and it’s completely free!
    Learn more and take the test here: https://dronetrust.com/faa-trust/.

  2. Certificated Remote Pilots including Commercial Operators. If you fly your drone for work or commercial use in the USA and your drone is 55 pounds or less, you can fly under the Part 107 rules and you’ll need to pass the Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test to get your certification.

If you’re flying your drone for free but are using it for business activities (such as a not for profit organisation or a school), you still need to operate under Part 107. To fly under the Part 107 there are 3 main steps:

  1. Learn the rules
  2. Take the Part 107 Knowledge Test and obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate
  3. Register and label – you’re done!

How do I get my Part 107 Drone Pilot Licence?

LEARN THE RULES

Before you start the Knowledge Test, you need to understand the Part 107 rules. These are not just for passing the test, but to make sure you can operate your drone business safely (for you and everyone else)! The Part 107 certification exam covers a challenging range of topics, many of which come from the manned aviation “airman” certification test.

To pass the exam, it’s highly recommended you take the Drone Trust sUAS Part 107 Exam Prep course. This course is built specifically by aviation professionals. It’s split into 13 modules that cover all the information you need to pass the Part 107 exam.

REMOTE PILOT CERTIFICATE ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible to get your Remote Pilot Certificate you must be:

  • At least 16 years old
  • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly in the USA

GETTING YOUR REMOTE PILOT CERTIFICATE

Step 1: Obtain an FAA Tracking number (FTM) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating application (IACRA) profile prior to registering for a knowledge test.

Step 2: Schedule your appointment with an FAA approved knowledge Testing Center. You will need to bring a government issued photo ID to your test. The test is an in-person test and can be taken at your local test centre.  The cost to take the test is $175.00.  There are approximately 800 locations through out the US.  Click here to find your local FAA drone testing center. [https://faa.psiexams.com/FAA/login]

Step 3: Pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test

Step 4: Complete FAA form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate. Once all the checks are done, you will be sent a confirmation email with instructions for printing a temporary remote pilot certificate.  A permanent certificate will be sent by mail once all the other FAA internal processing is complete.

Once you have your permanent Remote Pilot Certificate you will need to have it available whenever your fly your sUAS.

How do I renew my drone licence?

Now you’re a Certified Drone Pilot, you’ll need to keep abreast of any changes and keep your knowledge fresh! Every 2 years (24 months), you’ll be required complete the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent (ALC-677). Don’t worry – this is a totally free online course and can be taken via the FAA Safety Team website.

Do I need to register and label my drone?

Yes, all drones must be registered with the FAA either under Part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers. To register your drone, head over to the FAA Drone Zone to complete your registration (it only costs $5 and lasts for 3 years).

Now you’ve registered your drone, you need to label your drone to clearly display your registration number on the outside surface (you can use engraving, a permanent label, or a permanent marker).

Can I fly a drone if I already have a manned pilot licence?

If you already hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 61, you just need to complete the Part 107 Small UAS Initial (ALC-451) online training course. You will also need to complete an online recurrent training every 24 months.

That’s all there is to becoming a Certified Drone Pilot! So what are you waiting for?

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