How to get your UAS (drone) Remote Pilot Certificate (license), and legally make money flying it.

How to get your UAS (drone) Remote Pilot Certificate (license), and legally make money flying it.

How to get your UAS (drone) Remote Pilot Certificate (license), and legally make money flying it.

As of Monday, August 29, you can apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate created by the new Part 107 FAA rules.  Just prepare for and pass a 60-question written exam.  No flight experience necessary.
You can legally fly your drone with the intention of earning money from photos or videos taken from the aircraft.  There are limitations in the new rules, and what you can and cannot do under the new Part 107 rules are listed in the FAA Summary Of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule.  You should keep a copy with you when you are planning a flight in case your client wants you to do something not permitted by the FAA

While the rules do prohibit the following, you may ask the FAA for a waiver.  Be prepared to explain how your waivered flight will not compromise safety.

What is permitted under the new rules?

What is permitted under the new rules?
Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25)
Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31)
Visual observer (§ 107.33)
Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
Operation over people (§ 107.39)
Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51)
Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25)
Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31)
Visual observer (§ 107.33)
Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
Operation over people (§ 107.39)
Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51)
Be at least 16 years old.
Register your drone.
Make an appointment to take the knowledge test at an Airman Knowledge Testing Center.  You will need to have a valid government-issued picture ID with your name, address and signature to take the written exam.
Study, prepare and pass the test.  The Testing Center has 48 hours to upload your test score to the FAA.
Apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate (using the code from your successful test).
Print out a temporary Remote Pilot Certificate (the permanent one to be delivered by mail).
Fly.
Be at least 16 years old.
Register your drone.
Make an appointment to take the knowledge test at an Airman Knowledge Testing Center.  You will need to have a valid government-issued picture ID with your name, address and signature to take the written exam.
Study, prepare and pass the test.  The Testing Center has 48 hours to upload your test score to the FAA.
Apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate (using the code from your successful test).
Print out a temporary Remote Pilot Certificate (the permanent one to be delivered by mail).
Fly.
Be at least 16 years old.
Register your drone.
Make an appointment to take the knowledge test at an Airman Knowledge Testing Center.  You will need to have a valid government-issued picture ID with your name, address and signature to take the written exam.
Study, prepare and pass the test.  The Testing Center has 48 hours to upload your test score to the FAA.
Apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate (using the code from your successful test).
Print out a temporary Remote Pilot Certificate (the permanent one to be delivered by mail).
Fly.
If you have a flight planned for within five miles of an airport, you must get clearance from Air Traffic Control (ATC) using an online tool at the FAA website.  All of the ATC facilities have been directed to provide input to FAA HQ in the form of an altitude grid.  It looks a lot like the upside-down wedding cake of Class B and C airspace on sectional charts.
If your flight will be conducted below the predetermined safe altitudes near a facility, your approval will be rapid.  (The FAA doesn’t expect the automated online system to be fully online before 2018, so flight approval will be manually processed until then).

How to get your Remote Pilot Certificate and use it for commercial purposes.

How to get your Remote Pilot Certificate and use it for commercial purposes.
How to get your Remote Pilot Certificate and use it for commercial purposes.
Call, email or submit an online request form with one of the two companies supervising the test -- not the testing center.

How to get an appointment for a Remote Pilot Certificate written exam.

How to get an appointment for a Remote Pilot Certificate written exam.
How to get an appointment for a Remote Pilot Certificate written exam.
Both  CATS and PSI assign you a test center and collect your $150 payment.
There are 686 FAA Test Centers across the United States.  You'll need to contact CATS or PSI to get your appointment. The FAA website says you can just walk in- but this is incorrect.  You need to schedule and pay CATS or PSI first.

Where are the test centers?

Where are the Test Centers?

Where are the test centers?


You get two hours to answer 60 multiple-choice questions, and 70 percent is the minimum passing score.  But these aren't easy questions. The FAA will expect the Remote Pilot Certificate holder to be as knowledgeable as any Sports Pilot or Private Pilot except for the aircraft systems and actual flight experience.  The FAA offers an excellent Remote Pilot - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide (PDF).  The FAA study guide is very well written and illustrated - It is highly recommended for preparing to take the written exam.

How hard is the test?

How hard is the test?
To apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate you need to first create an account on the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA).
IACRA is the web-based certification/rating application that guides the user through the FAA's airman application process. IACRA helps ensure applicants meet regulatory and policy requirements through the use of extensive data validation. It also uses electronic signatures to protect the information's integrity, eliminates paper forms, and prints temporary certificates.

Once you have an account on IACRA you can apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate.  Get the complete instructions on the IACRA website.  You will need to attach your exam results to the application.

Apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate

Apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate
If your aircraft weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds, it must be registered with the FAA.   If you are flying for compensation be sure to select “Non-Model Aircraft” in the “Account Type” page.

If your aircraft weighs more than 55 pounds, you can't fly it with a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.  A Part 61 Pilot Certificate and a Section 333 waiver will be required.  But if your drone weighs more than 55 pounds, then you probably already know this.

Register your aircraft with the FAA.

Register your aircraft with the FAA.
A pilot certified under Part 61 (sport, Private of Commercial) may fly under the conditions of a Section 333 Exemption Letter, but many of the restrictions in the Section 333 Exemption Letter are removed when flying under Part 107 rules.  A Part 61 pilot with a current Flight Review (BFR or equivalent) can apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate after passing an online sUAV training course.  The written exam for new pilots is not required.

Do you have a Section 333 Exemption Letter?

Do you have a Section 333 Exemption Letter?
If you've never flown a multirotor UAS before buy an inexpensive one like the Syma X5C Explorer, UTO Drone U960 Hexacopter, and the Hubsan X4 H107L. Most of them use the same control configuration as more expensive drones so you will learn the basic motor skills without any risk of hurting people or turning an expensive aerial camera into scrap.  These and others are available from Amazon.com and cost less than $100.

How do I learn to fly a drone?

How do I learn to fly a drone?
Check out Part107.org, a forum for professional UAS pilots.
CATS (Computer Aided Testing Service)
1-800-947-4228
PSI (Formerly LaserGrade)
1-800-211-2753
Treetop.Academy is operated by MannMade Digital Video (www.mmdv.com)
Treetop.Academy is operated by MannMade Digital Video (www.mmdv.com)
Treetop.Academy is operated by MannMade Digital Video (www.mmdv.com)
Treetop.Academy is operated by MannMade Digital Video (www.mmdv.com)