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  • Dusty Sonnenberg

Steps to Becoming a Drone Pilot

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to fly your drone under the FAA's Small UAS Rule (Part 107), a Remote Pilot Certificate must be obtained from the FAA. To receive the certificate, remote pilots must understand the safety procedures of flying drones, regulations and operating requirements.

To become a drone pilot, pilots must be:

  • at least 16 years old

  • able to read, speak and write English

  • physically and mentally fit to fly a drone

  • pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)"

The requirements of the Remote Pilot Certificate include being easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations. To maintain aeronautical knowledge recency, certificate holders must complete an online training every 24 calendar months.

The steps to becoming a drone pilot include:

  • Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test

  • Book an appointment with an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center – a government-issued ID is required

  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)"

The Knowledge Test covers the following topics:

  • Small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation regulations

  • 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; and operation at night

Upon passing the Knowledge Test, the applicant must complete the FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application). This can be achieved by using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA).

The final step includes conducting a TSA security background check. The applicant will receive a confirmation email upon completion. Instructions are available for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA. Applicants will then receive a permanent remote pilot certificate in the mail. An operator must have the Remote Pilot Certificate available whenever flying the drone.

Drone Pilot Resources:

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