What is Part 107?
Essentially, Part 107 is a remote pilot certification process for the commercial use of small drones. Without one, flying a drone for profit could get you fined upwards of $1,000. Part 107 was finalized as part of Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations on June 21st, 2016. To have a Part 107 remote pilot certificate (or “commercial drone license”) means that pilots are allowed to operate their drones for profit without a Section 333 Exemption (Section 333 being the part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that “grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS)”).
How do You Get Certified?
Certification for Part 107 can be obtained in a couple of different ways. Pilot certificate holders may either take the FAA Safety Team online course called “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451” or take the aeronautical knowledge test, then submit an online or paper application (FAA form “8710-13”) through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA). All other applicants are required to pass the FAA remote pilot knowledge test.
Are You Eligible to Take the Test?
Not everyone can nor needs to take the Part 107 certificate. You can’t or don’t need to obtain certification if you are:
Only a recreation drone user,
Under 16 years old, or
A Part 16 certificate pilot who has completed a flight review within the past 24 months ( meaning you have the option to complete the Safety Team training course, and submit an 8710-13 form)
Before You Take the Test
Each attempt to pass the test costs $150. Administration of the test is by appointment through www.catstest.com. There, you can pay and search for your nearest testing site. The test is administered at around 700 locations approved by the FAA, so you have a good chance of finding a site closeby. Unfortunately, you won’t know your actual testing date until a few days after registering when a representative from a CATS Testing Center will call to reserve a time slot, or you can directly book an exam by calling the CATS facility directly (800-947-4228).
What to Expect on Test Day
At your local testing center, the test will be administered electronically at a computer station under the supervision of a proctor. You will have 2 hours to complete 60 multiple choice questions. A score of at least 70% is required to pass, and you will be tested on the following 12 topics:
Regulations Under Part 107
Airport Operations for Drone Pilots
Radio Communications for sUAS Pilots
Aviation Weather for Drone Pilots
Maintenance and Preflight Procedures
Crew Resource Management and Aeronautical Decision Making
sUAS Loading and Performance
Hazards to Flight and Emergency Procedures
Physiology for Drone Pilots Under Part 107
After the Test
Immediately upon completion of your test, you will receive your score. If you failed, you will have to wait 14 days before you can be tested again. If you passed, your temporary certificate will be made available on the IACRA site within one week. With the temporary certificate, you can fly legally. Within 1 to 3 months, your permanent Remote Pilot Certificate will arrive in the mail. This certificate is valid for 24 months before you need to retake the test.
If you’re worried about the certification process or the material, there are many guides available online to help you prepare. You can check out these resources for more information on Part 107 and obtaining certification:
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron