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Securing Your Remote Pilot Certificate

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)/Drone users who want to fly for commercial use (such as providing aerial surveying or photography services) or fly incidental to a business (such as performing roof inspections or real estate photography) must follow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) final rule for small, unmanned aircraft that went into effect on August 29, 2016.  Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 107 is the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule, also known by its short name, 14 CFR 107.

FAA-Pilot-License.jpg

This rule includes operational limitations, requirements for certifications and responsibilities of the remote pilot in command, and aircraft requirements. You can download the FAA summary of the rule here.

For new pilots, to become a pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

If you are already a manned licensed pilot, the process is different.

For existing manned pilots (Part 61 certificate holders), eligibility:

  • Must hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61
  • Must have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months

You can learn more about the overall certification process by visting the FAA website page devoted to explaining the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate rules and process:  https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/part_107/remote_pilot_cert/ 

For existing Remote Pilot certificate holders:

The first Remote Pilot certificates were issued in August 2016, and are at the end of their 24 calendar month currency. Remote drone pilots are required to complete a recurrent training course or pass a recurrent knowledge test within 24 calendar months to continue to exercise the privileges of their Remote Pilot certificates.

  • If you are a drone and manned pilot (Part 61 qualified) you can either:
    1. Retake the recurrent Part 107 Knowledge Test at a testing facility
    2. Take an online training course on FAA FAASTeam website
  • If you are a drone pilot, and do not hold a Part 61 (manned pilot) qualification you must take the initial or recurrent Part 107 Knowledge Test at a testing facility

The difference between the initial and recurrent knowledge test/online training course is the length. Both versions meet the requirements to maintain your Remote Pilot certificate.

Please note for all Remote Pilot certificate holders:  The FAA does not specify the method by which the certificate holder stores and displays his or her knowledge test report or course completion certificate; however, the certificate holder must provide the documents to the FAA upon request.

If you haven't already, contact your local testing center to schedule your in-person test appointment. Your test will cost $150, and you'll pay that directly to the testing center when you schedule your appointment.

After passing your inital or recurrent Aeronautical Knowledge Test, here are your next steps:

  • Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)
  • Register using the FAA IACRA system
  • Login with your username and password
  • Click on "Start New Application" and 1) Application Type "Pilot", 2) Certifications "Remote Pilot", 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
  • Follow application prompts
  • When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID found on your FAA Airman Knowledge Test Report provided to you after you successfully pass your exam. (NOTE: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
  • Sign the privacy policy and application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.
  • A confirmation email will be sent to you when you've completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of your temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA. The FAA has stated that this should take about 7-10 days.
  • You can login to the IACRA system periodically to monitor your progress.  When available, it is recommended that you print and retain a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate and carry it with you when you fly.
  • To monitor the processing speed, you can visit this page and review the dates for which permanent certificates are being processed, based on the temporary certificate issue week.  You will find the date in the "News & Highlights" container at the top of the page.
      https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/
  • Once the Airman Registry processes your application, a permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.  This process is currently taking about 5-7 weeks.

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