So you’ve decided to join the growing ranks of professional drone pilots.
Many pilots underestimate what it takes to pass the exam. They believe they know everything about flying these incredible machines.
However, the exam contains a host of specialized knowledge that isn’t usually talked about when it comes to piloting a drone.
This article will give you a great foundation to build from when preparing for the exam to help maximize your chances of passing the first time.
Let’s get started:
1. Age and Physical/Mental Condition
You will need to be at least 16 years old and have a valid form of photo identification – a driver’s license is perfect. If you do not drive, a state-issued identification card also works. Make sure that in addition to your photo, all of your information is spelled correctly and has not changed since you applied to take the exam.
Since safe operation of your drone is critical, it is important that you be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate your drone.
However, many disabled people are finding that piloting drones is a great way to have their own full-time business or side gig. Operating the controls properly and being able to keep the drone within one’s visual line of sight (VLOS) is any pilot’s responsibility. The FAA does not mind if the drone pilot uses a wheelchair.
2. English Skills Are Important
You must be able to understand English well enough to comprehend the proctor and the test. If your English is not up to par, brush up on your language skills before attempting the exam.
On the other hand, if you understand the study materials and sample questions provided to prepare for the exam, your English skills should be sufficient. But be ready – the test is quite technical and can be difficult for native English speakers as well.
3. Travel, Cost and Study Time
Since you are making the $150 commitment at an FAA-approved testing center, you definitely want to study. And study well.
The actual exam covers regulations, operations, weather effects and reports, various types of charts and maps, etc. Most people start studying two or three weeks before their exam date, putting in around 15 or 20 hours of study.
Your time may be different depending on your prior knowledge and/or how quickly you assimilate the information.
4. What’s On the Test?
You will have two hours to complete the 60-question exam. A passing score is only 70% so that should give you a little breathing room.
The test will include questions on:
- Regulations pertaining to drones
- The effects of weather on drones
- Airspace classification
- Flight restrictions
- Effects of drugs and alcohol
- Airport operations
- And several other areas
5. A Couple of Practice Questions
Here are a few practice questions to help give you a better idea of how the test will be worded:
In a commercial drone flight operation, who is responsible for communicating the proper emergency procedures – The lead visual observer, the client or the remote pilot in charge?
(Answer: The remote pilot in charge)
What class of airspace is associated with the airport surrounded by the blue dashes on the chart – Class D, Class C or Class B?
(Answer: Class D)
These two questions have been adapted from other practice tests but the indication is that you should be acutely aware of regulations, procedures and map/chart conventions.
6. All Of This Information Is Essential To Operating Effectively
Many pilots who have been flying for a long time might see some of the required knowledge as extraneous. But when operating commercially, it is to your and your clients’ benefit for you to be acutely aware of this information.
For example, if a potential client wants you to fly over a specific area to inspect a cell tower, see where their livestock is roaming, or map out their cornfields, you need to be able to tell that client (using technical detail) whether you can fly over it or not, or if you will need to get authorization to do the flight.
The client cannot answer that question, even if they own the tower, livestock, or land.
And beware if client tries to tell you that it is okay, you are the one who will possibly lose your license, be fined, or even spend a bit of time in jail for an unauthorized flight in the wrong class of airspace within the wrong distance.
7. Where To Get Additional Help
In addition to various drone sites, the FAA has several publications here that you can use to help you get started. There are a number items to read through, but they also include a testing guide and lots of practice questions so that you will have a good idea of what to expect when exam day rolls around.
8. What Happens After the Test?
You should receive your score within about 48 hours (not including weekends) after taking the test.
If you passed, you can then apply for your remote pilot certification through the FAA site and obtain your temporary certification. Your permanent certification will be sent through the mail and may take a few weeks to arrive.
9. What If I Fail the Test?
Don’t worry, you can retake the test at least 14 days after the previous one. The two-week waiting period is to give you enough time to study the areas that gave you trouble.
Unfortunately, you will have to pay the $150 fee again, so make sure that you have gained the knowledge you missed.
10. You Will Need to Recertify
All remote pilots are required to recertify every two years. And it is a good idea to schedule your recertification well before your current one runs out so that there is no risk of a lapse in certification.
This should give you a good idea of what to expect when you want to take the Part 107 exam. However, also be sure to check out the FAA’s extensive knowledge base and their FAQ. This guide will also give you an even more in-depth idea of how to prepare for the exam and pass with flying colors.
About The Author
Mark Sheehan started My Drone Authority to share his knowledge and help people get the most out of this amazing hobby and profession.