So you’ve been flying for a couple years now and you start thinking this drone thing might be getting kind of serious.
How are you going to take this to the next level? By getting a drone license of course!
We’ve all been here before, so we’ve written this guide to get you through the next few rocky steps in your relationship and make things official. This guide is only for obtaining your drone license in the United States; for other countries stay tuned!
First thing you’ll need to understand is what restrictions your license will come with. First of all, the part 107 commercial pilot license is restricted to drones that are 55 lbs (~25 kg) or less and you can only fly in Class G airspaces. Remember, that 55 lbs applies to how much your drone weighs at takeoff, so it includes the weight of any payloads it will be carrying. You will still need to keep your drone in line of sight will flying as well as flying under 400 feet (121 meters). With a license you can now fly at twilight or evening time, but you must do so with anti-collision lighting.
There are some pretty basic standards you must meet before taking the test. Here are the requirements to get a drone license in the United States of America.
- 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)”
Once you receive your certificate you’ll also be required to keep your certificate (license) on you whenever you’re carrying out drone operations as well as take an online course every 24 months to make sure you’re up to date on aeronautical knowledge.
Registering for the Knowledge Test
Register IACRA Account
Register an account at Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application and obtain your FAA Tracking Number. It should show up in your profile after registering.
Schedule a Knowledge Test
Visit the FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center and create an account using the FAA Tracking Number you obtained from the IACRA website. Schedule a test at your nearest testing center. Remember the test you’re taking is called the Unmanned Aircraft General or UAG. Scheduling a knowledge exam will cost $175.
Take the Test
Make sure to take your government-issued ID to the test; either a drivers license or passport. Make sure all your information on your identification is valid and current. The topics you’ll be tested on will range from airspace classifications and restrictions to weather effects on UAV operation to emergency procedures.
The test will consist of 60 questions and you’ll have 2 hours to complete all of the questions. You’ll need a score of 70 or above to pass. If you fail, don’t trip, you’ll be able to retake the test after 14 days. Make sure to submit your failing test report to your testing location prior to your retake.
Apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate
After passing your test, visit Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application again and fill out the FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate.
- Login and click on “Start New Application”.
- Select Application Type – “Pilot”, Certificate Type – “Remote Pilot”, and then click Start Application.
- Fill out application.
- One of the steps will require you to fill out your 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID. You’ll be able to find this ID on your test report. Keep in mind that it may take up to 48 hours after your test date for your results to show up in the IACRA database.
- Sign the application electronically and submit for processing.
Afterwards you’ll receive a confirmation email after completing the TSA security background check. This email will also contain instructions for printing out a copy of your temporary remote pilot certificate. Your permanent license will be sent to you in the mail after the FAA finishes internal processing.
Congratulations! You’re now certified as a remote drone pilot and can fly your drone commercially! Remember you’ll still have restrictions, but overall you’ll be able to fly your drone in more places and different conditions such as twilight. You can now start planning your next epic drone video.
As a certain comic book uncle said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Now that you’re a certified pilot, you’ll have more responsibilities placed on you. This includes making sure your drone is clearly marked and has hazard lights. Now that you’re officially recognized as a pilot, you’ll have to make sure you follow all airspace restrictions and act as an example for your fellow drone enthusiasts. Also don’t forget to complete the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent (ALC-677) online training course every 24 months to keep your knowledge current! Happy flying!