It’s finally happened.
You’ve grown out of simply flying drones for fun. Operating a drone is more than a hobby to you. It’s going to be a career!
The potential for commercial drone operation is getting wider every day. New ways of making money with our flying friends are being thought up on what seems like a daily basis. So it really is the best time to get in on the ground floor.
There’s one catch however.
If you live in the United States, you can’t just buy a drone and start charging money to fly it. No sir, in the Land of the Free you first need to get permission from the government. Specifically you need to pass the Part 107 Aeronautical test .
To help with that check out our FAA Part 107 Study Guide:
What is FAA Part 107 and Why Should I Care?
Part 107 refers to the specific section of section of FAA regulations covering the commercial use of drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.
When you fly your drone for commercial purposes you have to comply with all the rules stipulated in Part 107. To ensure that everyone who flies a drone commercially has the knowledge and competence to comply with the regulations, you must possess a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating.
What Does the FAA Part 107 Test Cover?
The first and most important thing to know about the FAA Part 107 test is that there is no practical element . It’s a purely theoretical assessment, so you can pass it even if you’ve never flown a drone at all.
Although, you really should undergo practical training and rack up some hours flying drones before you decide to go commercial.
The test itself will consist of 60 multiple-choice questions .
Every two years (24 months) you will have to retake the test. This is a good thing, since the drone industry is changing constantly and new regulations are bound to show up regularly.
There are about 120 distinct concepts in the FAA Part 107 regulations that you need to know and understand in order to pass. Twenty hours of study is not out of the ordinary and getting started at least two weeks before the test date is a good idea.
The content you need to master for the test doesn’t just include drone-specific knowledge, but general aviation knowledge as well. In other words, you need to have the same basic knowledge
There are five topic areas in the test:
- Airspace & Requirements
- Loading and Performance
You need at least 42 correct answers out of 60 to pass and some of the questions refer to graphs, diagrams or pictures that you’ll have to interpret.
Within these topics you’ll need to know specific things such as:
- Airport procedures
- Airspace classification
- Radio procedures
- Emergency procedures
- And more!
This is only a taste. Once you’ve engaged with the study material the full spread of knowledge will be apparent. It should be clear that being a commercial drone pilot involves a lot more than knowing how to pilot a drone.
It also involves more than just knowing drone regulations. You need to have good knowledge of aviation in general.
Where Can I Go To Prepare for the Test?
As we mentioned above, while the test isn’t difficult in a general sense, you’re not likely to pass it without enough preparation. The good news is that there are some good places to go in order to sharpen up your knowledge prior to sitting the test.
An easy first stop is the FAA’s own official Part 107 online course. Oddly enough, this is not a comprehensive way to prepare for the test, since it was created with the assumption that you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate.
Most commercial drone operators are probably not going to have one of these, but that doesn’t mean the online course isn’t worth taking a look at. After all it won’t cost you anything and will cover the content of the Part 107-specific questions.
We do however recommend that you also look into paid course preparation options.
Remember that this is for commercial drone operation, and so training costs are a business expense. You have to spend money to make money.
In the long run paying for a decent guided course works out cheaper than repeatedly taking the test and failing. Not to mention lost income from not actually logging paid flight time.
We’ve highlighted a few options that have a good reputation and reasonable prices:
Drone Launch Academy offers a comprehensive course that gives you all the information you need to pass the test. They’re so confident they’ll give your money back as well as the $150 test fee is should fail.
Drone Pilot Ground School is another comprehensive online course with a generous guarantee. You’ll get your test fee back if you don’t make it the first time. You also get lifetime access to the content for the 24-month update test.
Dart Drones offers quite a unique offer compared to most companies that sell drone training. They have an in-person course in addition to the more common online one. It’s a bit pricier for sure, but some people simply benefit more from face-to-face instruction.
If you don’t like the idea of studying online or simply find it too pricey, you might want to look at a great little book by The Drone Boss called the Drone FAA 107 Licence Study Guide. You need to be proficient at self-study, but the Kindle edition in particular is an absolute steal price-wise.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
At $150 per try, it really is worth preparing properly for your FAA Part 107 test. Give yourself enough time, check out the paid courses in this FAA Part 107 study guide and take it seriously. If you can do that you should have no issue acing your test and getting a real-deal remote pilot certification. It’s a big responsibility and you’ll have to maintain that certification until you decide to hang up your controller, but the opportunities are plentiful and the juice surely worth the squeeze.
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