It may be hard to believe that nearly 2 years has gone by since the FAA started the licensing process for commercial drone (sUAS) pilots under FAR Part 107. If you were one of the first to obtain this valuable license, it is fast approaching time to renew your license as the 24-month limit is coming due. Good news though, the FAA recently updated their Airmen Certification Standards for Remote Pilots to include the renewal process!
As you may know, FAR 107 was created to allow non-airplane pilots the ability to fly drones (sUAS) for hire as there needs to be guidelines in place to provide extensions to the radio controlled (RC) aircraft rules that drones fall under (non-commercial operations). One such limitation was the hard limit of 400 feet above the ground (AGL), which only FAR 107 licensed pilots can exceed, within limitations, so they can perform their jobs. The FAA began the FAR 107 licensing process in late August 2016, so those of us that were first to acquire that license are coming due for its renewal, so let’s look at what is involved…
The renewal process will require another test, but it will differ from the initial testing requirements in terms of at least topics covered. The initial test included sections on weather, along with loading and performance, which are absent from the renewal certification testing. Take a look at these graphics to help illustrate the difference in topics and what is included in the renewal process:
There are a few things to note from these different charts. As mentioned, sections III – Weather and IV – Loading and Performance, are not listed for the renewal process. However, airspace is and you should expect to see Sectional Charts on the test as well. If you have not been using them, to at least their online versions, you should be as they are important and you will rightfully be tested on them. One last note is that while the ACS states that recurrent testing is only required for drone pilots not also licensed under FAR Part 61, or if the FAR 61 licensed pilot has not successfully completed a Flight Review, the certification process does show the need to complete the online course and obtain its completion certificate. Take a look at the following chart which breaks down what is required and how the process to obtain your new Remote Pilot – sUAS rating Certificate:
Some additional differences for the Remote Pilot Certificate renewal testing should be noted as well. While the testing can be done at one of the nearly 700 FAA approved knowledge testing centers, drone pilot applicants will only have 90 minutes for the recurrent test, which leads many to believe there will be fewer questions on the recurrent test. With less topics to cover, that makes sense. While the FAA ACS does not mention haw many questions will be included on the recurrent test, the reduced time and reduction of topics have many guessing the test will be between 40-50 questions (based on reducing the number of questions by the percentages used for initial testing). Hopefully, the FAA will state how many questions will be involved on the test. Drone Mastery’s suggestion is that it doesn’t matter for anyone who knows the material, especially if you have been utilizing the license properly for the last 2 years.
There are several websites that offer FAA Part 107 testing preparation, but we do not endorse any one and suggest staying away from those that focus just on getting you a passing grade via a “Rote” level of understanding. Drone Mastery offers private and group in-person training located in South Florida. Our online initial and renewal courses are nearing completion, as well las our night specific training, which is required for the waiver of FAR 107.29 (allowing night commercial operations). The waiver for Nighttime Commercial Drone Operations will be completed by the end of June 2018, with the FAR 107 and FAR 107 Renewal Courses being completed as quickly as possible thereafter. Our training goes more in depth than others as is taught by Robert D. Ashby, a FAA licensed and active airline pilot who holds multiple type ratings and CFI, CFII certificates. He is currently working on his MEI instructor rating as well, which should be completed by August 2018 at the latest.
Fr more information on Drone Mastery’s courses, please contact us via the form at the top of the page.