So, you're ready to live the drone life and become a commercial drone pilot? This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to become a commercially certified drone pilot in the United States. In order to fly drones for money, you'll need a drone pilot license, or what the FAA calls a Part 107 Certificate.
Aspiring drone pilots are discovering that it is possible to find a job as a drone pilot and make a decent living. Drones were once toys, now they are tools with numerous applications from drone mapping to aerial videography and inspections.
In this guide, you will receive instructions for getting your drone pilot license and learn important FAA 14 CFR Part 107 rules – a must before you start flying commercially.
If you're wondering, Do I need to be a certified drone pilot? Since the recent rule change, it's almost silly not to have a 107 if there is any commercial purpose involved, posting on youtube included. Check out the full breakdown here;
Part 1o7 Certificate is just 1 step to run a successful business or drone program you'll need to actually learn to fly drones. Do that here:
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To become a licensed drone pilot and fly commercially, you need to pass the FAA’s Part 107 exam. Passing Part 107 is not difficult, especially if you refer the right resources and the right instructors to guide you. Yes, there is a magic formula and we'll get to that later, but here is the actual logistical process of acquiring your FAA certificate.
After Passing the Part 107 Exam, you'll need to know how to file for airspace authorizations, nighttime waivers, unlocking flight zones and maintenance for your vehicles. Drone U has over 30 classes to help transform you into a fully functioning drone pilot confident in flight and knowledgable in scalable systems to build a successful business or drone program.
At Drone U, we have many Part 107 resources to help you out. Including a full online course that can be taken from home. We offer one of the few classes taught by an FAA Certified Flight Instructor, Ted!
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The Part 107 test consists of 60 questions. You will have 2 hours to complete your test. You need a passing score of 70% or more to pass the test.
The test questions can be segmented into the following main topics:
It is quite common for Drone U students to achieve a score of 90% or more in their Part 107 test. Pass our practice tests with a 90%, and we guarantee you'll pass the FAA exam.
After you have studied for your Part 107 and are consistently scoring 90% and above in the prep test, you can go ahead and schedule your Part 107 Exam.
Scheduling your Part 107 Exam is easy. You can do so easily by calling CATS at (844) 704-1487.
You can look up the entire list of Part 107 testing centers by clicking HERE. There are more than 300 CATS testing centers. You are likely to find a Part 107 testing center near you. We recommend that students schedule the test once they are achieving 90% on their Drone U quizzes.
Congrats! Now you're a drone pilot! Well, that was easy, unfortunately, the FAA's exam doesn't actually cover much about how to actually operate a drone. Luckily Drone U has some great classes that will help you learn to fly confidently and more importantly not crash.
Learning to fly properly is vital! In order to fly in most urban areas as a drone pilot, you will need to acquire authorization to fly in controlled airspace. Most airports offer LAANC capability which is government jibberish for, you can get an instant airspace authorization in certain areas. If you're going to set up a successful business, we recommend you apply for wide area authorizations in case the instant portal for airspace access goes down. (it has many times)
Drone Pilot's can apply for various waivers in order to extend their commercial offerings to clients. If drone pilots wish to conduct light painting at night, they'll typically need a night time waiver in order to conduct those missions.
Members enjoy free access to the following content to help grow their drone business.
Now, Taking a Flight Mastery Course, which takes pilots through 12 exercises that build a foundation of basic flight movements and slowly progress and test the pilot to handle complex flight maneuvers. Pilots actually fly these exercises through the Drone U obstacle course. Flight Mastery will make you a confident pilot adept to take on the skies!
Minus the cost of your test prep, The cost of a Part 107 test cost is $150, payable to the FAA. There are no other hidden costs. Your drone pilot license is valid for 2 years until you take the recurrence test.
Every two years, you need to clear a Part 107 license renewal test or Part 107 recurrent knowledge test. Check out our blog post, “How to Register for and Pass Your Part 107 Recency Exam” to learn more about this.
No, you do not. However, as a commercial drone pilot, we strongly recommend that you purchase adequate insurance. In fact, if you are working for a big organization, it is highly likely that drone insurance is a contractual requirement.
If you buy drone insurance, you can be covered against property damage as well as injury to other people. Often, drone pilots who have started a new business tend to fly without insurance. What can go wrong with a small unmanned aircraft? A lot, actually.
Issues such as a drop in battery voltage, signal loss, unruly weather or even a rogue bird can cause your drone to come crashing down. If a drone falls on a bystander, the spinning props can cause severe lacerations. In the worst case, a drone falling over a moving vehicle can even cause a serious accident.
With many drone insurance providers in the market today, coverage is quite affordable ($800-$1,000). Buying drone insurance will protect you from liabilities in case of such unforeseen events. To learn more about what to buy, and how to buy, check out our Drone Insurance Guide.
This is another question that drone pilots often ask us. Since the recent rule change and congresses removal of the model aircraft rule, it's almost silly not to have a 107 if there is any commercial purpose involved, posting on YouTube included. Check out the full breakdown here;
According to section 107.12 of 14 CFR Part 107:
Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may manipulate the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system unless:
(1) That person has a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of § 107.65; or
(2) That person is under the direct supervision of a remote pilot in command and the remote pilot in command has the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the small unmanned aircraft”.
So, technically, according to the rules, an unlicensed drone pilot can fly commercially, provided he is being supervised by a Part 107 pilot, who is on site, can take direct control of the UAS, and is continuously maintaining Visual Line of Sight.
But, is this advisable? No.
If you do not have a drone pilot license, your drone insurance provider is not legally bound to honor your claim and make good any damages. So, flying commercially without a drone license, under the supervision of licensed pilots makes YOU liable for any damage or injury.
VLOS and BVLOS are two terms that beginner drone pilots will often hear. VLOS is the acronym for Visual Line of Sight. And BVLOS, as you may have guessed, stands for Beyond Visual Line of Sight. According to Section 107.31 of 14 CFR Part 107, you, the drone pilot, should maintain visual line of sight at all times. This is the excerpt:
(a) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small unmanned aircraft system must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to:
(1) Know the unmanned aircraft’s location;
(2) Determine the unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;
(3) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and
(4) Determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.
So, what does this all mean? Firstly, as commercial drone pilot, you need 3 miles of visibility to fly. So, in foggy conditions, when your line of sight is limited, you CANNOT fly.
Apart from this, there is no definite distance defined by the FAA - beyond which your operations are termed as BVLOS.
Some more common questions that drone pilots often ask us:
No. You cannot.
Section 107.51 of 14 CFR Part 107 states that your drone:
“Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL), unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.”
What does this mean? This means that if you are within 400 feet of tall structure like a building or tower, you can fly 400 feet above the structure’s uppermost point – provided you do not breach controlled airspace.
So, if you are in a LAANC area, and flying within 400 feet of a tower, you CANNOT breach the LAANC ceiling.
Click HERE for Step-by-step instructions for obtaining LAANC Approval using Mobile Apps and Desktop App Skyward.
If you're ready to Live the Drone Life, Don't Wait! We'll see you inside the Drone U Community!