Federal Drone Law


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Drones & FAA Modernization Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA)(PL 112–95)

Subtitle B—Unmanned Aircraft Systems

SEC. 331. DEFINITIONS.

In this subtitle, the following definitions apply:
(1) ARCTIC.—The term ‘‘Arctic’’ means the United States zone of the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Bering Sea north of the Aleutian chain.
(2) CERTIFICATE OF WAIVER; CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORIZATION.—The terms ‘‘certificate of waiver’’ and ‘‘certificate of authorization’’ mean a Federal Aviation Administration grant of approval for a specific flight operation.
(3) PERMANENT AREAS.—The term ‘‘permanent areas’’ means areas on land or water that provide for launch, recovery, and operation of small unmanned aircraft.
(4) PUBLIC UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.—The term ‘‘public unmanned aircraft system’’ means an unmanned aircraft system that meets the qualifications and conditions required for operation of a public aircraft (as defined in section 40102 of title 49, United States Code).
(5) SENSE AND AVOID CAPABILITY.—The term ‘‘sense and avoid capability’’ means the capability of an unmanned aircraft to remain a safe distance from and to avoid collisions with other airborne aircraft.
(6) SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term ‘‘small unmanned aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.
(7) TEST RANGE.—The term ‘‘test range’’ means a defined geographic area where research and development are conducted.

(8) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term ‘‘unmanned aircraft’’ means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.
(9) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.—The term ‘‘unmanned aircraft system’’ means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

SEC. 332. INTEGRATION OF CIVIL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS
INTO NATIONAL AIRSPACE SYSTEM.

(a) REQUIRED PLANNING FOR INTEGRATION.—

(1) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.—Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with representatives of the aviation industry, Federal agencies that employ unmanned aircraft systems technology in the national airspace system, and the unmanned aircraft systems industry, shall develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.
(2) CONTENTS OF PLAN.—The plan required under paragraph (1) shall contain, at a minimum, recommendations or projections on—

(A) the rulemaking to be conducted under subsection (b), with specific recommendations on how the rulemaking will—

(i) define the acceptable standards for operation and certification of civil unmanned aircraft systems;
(ii) ensure that any civil unmanned aircraft system includes a sense and avoid capability; and
(iii) establish standards and requirements for the operator and pilot of a civil unmanned aircraft system, including standards and requirements for registration and licensing;

(B) the best methods to enhance the technologies and subsystems necessary to achieve the safe and routine operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;
(C) a phased-in approach to the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system;
(D) a timeline for the phased-in approach described under subparagraph (C);
(E) creation of a safe
(F) airspace designation for cooperative manned and unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system;
(G) establishment of a process to develop certification, flight standards, and air traffic requirements for civil unmanned aircraft systems at test ranges where such systems are subject to testing;
(H) the best methods to ensure the safe operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems and public unmanned aircraft systems simultaneously in the national airspace system; and
(I) incorporation of the plan into the annual NextGen Implementation Plan document (or any successor document) of the Federal Aviation Administration.

(3) DEADLINE.—The plan required under paragraph (1) shall provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.
(4) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a copy of the plan required under paragraph (1).
(5) ROADMAP.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall approve and make available in print and on the Administration’s Internet Web site a 5-year roadmap for the introduction of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, as coordinated by the Unmanned Aircraft Program Office of the Administration. The Secretary shall update the roadmap annually.

(b) RULEMAKING.—Not later than 18 months after the date on which the plan required under subsection (a)(1) is submitted to Congress under subsection (a)(4), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register—

(1) a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems that will allow for civil operation of such systems in the national airspace system, to the extent the systems do not meet the requirements for expedited operational authorization under section 333 of this Act;
(2) a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement the recommendations of the plan required under subsection (a)(1), with the final rule to be published not later than 16 months after the date of publication of the notice; and
(3) an update to the Administration’s most recent policy statement on unmanned aircraft systems, contained in Docket No. FAA–2006–25714.

(c) PILOT PROJECTS.—

(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at 6 test ranges. The program shall terminate 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act.
(2) PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.—In establishing the program under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall—

(A) safely designate airspace for integrated manned and unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system;
(B) develop certification standards and air traffic requirements for unmanned flight operations at test ranges;
(C) coordinate with and leverage the resources of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense;
(D) address both civil and public unmanned aircraft systems;
(E) ensure that the program is coordinated with the Next Generation Air Transportation System; and
(F) provide for verification of the safety of unmanned aircraft systems and related navigation procedures before integration into the national airspace system.

(3) TEST RANGE LOCATIONS.—In determining the location of the 6 test ranges of the program under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall—

(A) take into consideration geographic and climatic diversity;
(B) take into consideration the location of ground infrastructure and research needs; and
(C) consult with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense.

(4) TEST RANGE OPERATION.—A project at a test range shall be operational not later than 180 days after the date on which the project is established.

(5) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the termination of the program under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives a report setting forth the Administrator’s findings and conclusions concerning the projects.

(B) ADDITIONAL CONTENTS.—The report under subparagraph

(A) shall include a description and assessment of the progress being made in establishing special use airspace to fill the immediate need of the Department of Defense—

(i) to develop detection techniques for small unmanned aircraft systems; and
(ii) to validate the sense and avoid capability and operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

(d) EXPANDING USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS IN ARCTIC.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall develop a plan and initiate a process to work with relevant Federal agencies and national and international communities to designate permanent areas in the Arctic where small unmanned aircraft may operate 24 hours per day for research and commercial purposes. The plan for operations in these permanent areas shall include the development of processes to facilitate the safe operation of unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight. Such areas shall enable over-water flights from the surface to at least 2,000 feet in altitude, with ingress and egress routes from selected coastal launch sites.
(2) AGREEMENTS.—To implement the plan under paragraph (1), the Secretary may enter into an agreement with relevant national and international communities.
(3) AIRCRAFT APPROVAL.—Not later than 1 year after the entry into force of an agreement necessary to effectuate the purposes of this subsection, the Secretary shall work with relevant national and international communities to establish and implement a process, or may apply an applicable process already established, for approving the use of unmanned aircraft in the designated permanent areas in the Arctic without regard to whether an unmanned aircraft is used as a public aircraft, a civil aircraft, or a model aircraft.

SEC. 333. SPECIAL RULES FOR CERTAIN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other requirement of this subtitle, and not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall determine if certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system before completion of the plan and rulemaking required by section 332 of this Act or the guidance required by section 334 of this Act.

(b) ASSESSMENT OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.—In making the determination under subsection (a), the Secretary shall determine, at a minimum—

(1) which types of unmanned aircraft systems, if any, as a result of their size, weight, speed, operational capability, proximity to airports and populated areas, and operation within visual line of sight do not create a hazard to users of the national airspace system or the public or pose a threat to national security; and
(2) whether a certificate of waiver, certificate of authorization, or airworthiness certification under section 44704 of title 49, United States Code, is required for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems identified under paragraph (1).

(c) REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE OPERATION.—If the Secretary determines under this section that certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system, the Secretary shall establish requirements for the safe operation of such aircraft systems in the national airspace system.

SEC. 334. PUBLIC UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) GUIDANCE.—Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue guidance regarding the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems to—

(1) expedite the issuance of a certificate of authorization process;
(2) provide for a collaborative process with public agencies to allow for an incremental expansion of access to the national airspace system as technology matures and the necessary safety analysis and data become available, and until standards are completed and technology issues are resolved;
(3) facilitate the capability of public agencies to develop and use test ranges, subject to operating restrictions required by the Federal Aviation Administration, to test and operate unmanned aircraft systems; and
(4) provide guidance on a public entity’s responsibility when operating an unmanned aircraft without a civil airworthiness certificate issued by the Administration.

(b) STANDARDS FOR OPERATION AND CERTIFICATION.—Not later than December 31, 2015, the Administrator shall develop and implement operational and certification requirements for the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system.
(c) AGREEMENTS WITH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall enter into agreements with appropriate government agencies to simplify the process for issuing certificates of waiver or authorization with respect to applications seeking authorization to operate public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system.
(2) CONTENTS.—The agreements shall—

(A) with respect to an application described in paragraph

(1)—

(i) provide for an expedited review of the application;

(ii) require a decision by the Administrator on approval or disapproval within 60 business days of the date of submission of the application; and
(iii) allow for an expedited appeal if the application is disapproved;

(B) allow for a one-time approval of similar operations carried out during a fixed period of time; and
(C) allow a government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less, if operated—

(i) within the line of sight of the operator;
(ii) less than 400 feet above the ground;
(iii) during daylight conditions;
(iv) within Class G airspace; and
(v) outside of 5 statute miles from any airport, heliport, seaplane base, spaceport, or other location with aviation activities.

SEC. 335. SAFETY STUDIES.

The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall carry out all safety studies necessary to support the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—

(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).

(b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
(c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—

(1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
(2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
(3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

 


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate. (2018)

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Section 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.

(a) The holder of a certificate issued under this subpart may voluntarily surrender it for cancellation.

(b) Any request made under paragraph (a) of this section must include the following signed statement or its equivalent: “I voluntarily surrender my remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for cancellation. This request is made for my own reasons, with full knowledge that my certificate will not be reissued to me unless I again complete the requirements specified in §§107.61 and 107.63.”

My Commentary on Section 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.

This comes in handy for a defense attorney who wants to negotiate with a prosecutor for a better deal.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.

None

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

Section 107.79 will allow the holder of a remote pilot certificate with a small UASrating to voluntarily surrender it to the FAA for cancellation. However, the FAA emphasizes that cancelling the certificate pursuant to § 107.79 will mean that the certificate no longer exists, and the individual who surrendered the certificate will need to again go through the entire certification process if he or she subsequently changes his or her mind. For individuals who are not part 61 pilot certificate holders, this includes passing the initial aeronautical knowledge test. Accordingly, § 107.79(b) will require the individual surrendering the certificate to include the following signed statement (or an equivalent) in his or her cancellation request:

I voluntarily surrender my remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for cancellation. This request is made for my own reasons with full knowledge that my certificate will not be reissued to me unless I again complete the requirements specified in § 107.61 and § 107.63.

The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this provision when it was proposed in the NPRM.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.77 Change of name or address. (2018)

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Section 107.77 Change of name or address.

(a) Change of name. An application to change the name on a certificate issued under this subpart must be accompanied by the applicant’s:

(1) Remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating; and

(2) A copy of the marriage license, court order, or other document verifying the name change.

(b) The documents in paragraph (a) of this section will be returned to the applicant after inspection.

(c) Change of address. The holder of a remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating issued under this subpart who has made a change in permanent mailing address may not, after 30 days from that date, exercise the privileges of the certificate unless the holder has notified the FAA of the change in address using one of the following methods:

(1) By letter to the FAA Airman Certification Branch, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125 providing the new permanent mailing address, or if the permanent mailing address includes a post office box number, then the holder’s current residential address; or

(2) By using the FAA Web site portal at www.faa.gov providing the new permanent mailing address, or if the permanent mailing address includes a post office box number, then the holder’s current residential address.

My Commentary on Section 107.77 Change of name or address.

It’s important that you give the FAA your correct address because if they need to mail you something, like a certificate revocation, they fine you if you don’t turn over your certificate timely.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.77 Change of name or address.

None

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.77 Change of name or address from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

This rule will extend the existing change-of-mailing-address requirement of part 61 to holders of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. Specifically § 107.77(c) will require a certificate holder who has made a change in permanent mailing address to notify the FAA within 30 days of making the address change. Failure to do so will prohibit the certificate holder from exercising the privileges of the airman certificate until he or she has notified the FAA of the changed address. This regulatory provision will help ensure that the FAA is able to contact airman certificate holders. The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this provision when it was proposed in the NPRM.

Previous RegulationBack to Drone Regulations DirectoryNext Regulation


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses. (2018)

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Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

(a) An initial training course covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;

(3) Small unmanned aircraft loading;

(4) Emergency procedures;

(5) Crew resource management;

(6) Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft; and

(7) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

(b) A recurrent training course covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Emergency procedures;

(3) Crew resource management; and

(4) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

My Commentary on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UA in the NAS. This aeronautical knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard (https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/) that provides the necessary reference material. Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate. 6.6.1 Initial Test. As described in paragraph 6.4, a person applying for remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given by an FAA-approved KTC. The initial knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below: 1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation; 2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small UA operation; 3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small UA performance; 4. Small UA loading and performance; 5. Emergency procedures; 6. Crew Resource Management (CRM); 7. Radio communication procedures; 8. Determining the performance of small UA; 9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol; 10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment; 11. Airport operations; and 12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures. 6.6.1.1 A part 61 certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete an initial online training course instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7). 6/21/16 AC 107-2 6-5 6.6.1.2 Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B. 6.6.2 Recurrent Test. After a person receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a remote pilot certificate, the certificate holder must pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. A part 61 pilot certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete a recurrent online training course instead of taking the knowledge test.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

Aeronautical Knowledge Training Course (Initial and Recurrent). This section is applicable only to persons who hold a part 61 airman certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, and have a current flight review.

6.7.1 Initial Training Course. As described in paragraph 6.4, a pilot applying for a remote pilot certificate may complete an initial training course instead of the knowledge test. The training course can be taken online at www.faasafety.gov. The initial training course will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:

1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Effects of weather on small UA performance;
3. Small UA loading and performance;
4. Emergency procedures;
5. CRM;
6. Determining the performance of small UA; and
7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

Note: Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B.

6.7.2 Recurrent Training Course. After a pilot receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. As a renewal process, the remote pilot must complete either a recurrent training course or a recurrent knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. Figure 6-2, Recurrent Training Course Cycle Examples, illustrates an individual’s possible renewal cycles.

6.7.2.1 The recurrent training course areas are as follows:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Emergency procedures;
3. CRM; and
4. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

For the reasons discussed below, this rule will allow part 61 pilot certificate holders (other than the holders of a student pilot certificate) with current flight reviews139 to substitute an online training course for the aeronautical knowledge testing required by this rule.

Airborne Law Enforcement Association and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, suggested requiring only the recurrent knowledge test for part-61-certificated pilots. Numerous commenters also suggested that holders of part 61 airman certificates should be required to take only the recurrent knowledge test, not the initial knowledge test, or should be exempted entirely from knowledge-testing requirements. One commenter suggested that the holders of private, commercial, and ATP certificates who have operated UAS under exemptions be exempted from the initial knowledge test requirement. Another commented that non-military COA pilots should be permitted to take just the recurrent test, since the applicants will usually hold at least a private pilot certificate. One commenter stated that those applicants who hold part 61 pilot certificates should be required only to complete UAS-specific modules as part of the existing FAA Wings program. Another commenter stated that there should be a provision to enable existing small UAS pilots with a certain amount of logged PIC time to fly a small UAS without having to take a knowledge test.

The FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that requiring part-61-certificated pilots who satisfy the flight-review requirements of § 61.56 to take an initial or recurrent knowledge test is unduly burdensome. Through initial certification and subsequent flight reviews, a part-61-certificated airman is required to demonstrate knowledge of many of the topic areas tested on the UAS knowledge test. These areas include: airspace classification and operating requirements, aviation weather sources, radio communication procedures, physiological effects of drugs and alcohol, aeronautical decision-making and judgment, and airport operations. Because a part 61 pilot certificate holder is evaluated on these areas of knowledge in the course of the part 61 certification and flight review process, reevaluating these areas of knowledge on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests conducted under part 107 would be needlessly duplicative.

However, there are UAS-specific areas of knowledge (discussed in section III.F.2.j of this preamble) that a part-61-certificated pilot may not be familiar with. Accordingly, instead of requiring part-61-certificated pilots who are current on their flight reviews to take the initial and recurrent knowledge tests, this rule will provide those pilots with the option to take an online training course focusing on UAS-specific areas of knowledge. Just as there is an initial and recurrent knowledge test, there will also be an initial and recurrent training course available to part 61 pilot certificate holders. Those certificate holders will be able to substitute the initial training course for the initial knowledge test and the recurrent training course for the recurrent knowledge test. To ensure that a certificate holder’s UAS-specific knowledge does not become stale, this rule will include the requirement that a part 61 pilot certificate holder must pass either the recurrent training course or the recurrent knowledge test every 24 months.

The FAA emphasizes that the online training course option in lieu of taking the knowledge test will be available only to those part 61 pilot certificate holders who satisfy the flight review required by § 61.56. This is to ensure that the certificate holder’s knowledge of general aeronautical concepts that are not included on the training course does not become stale. Part 61 pilot certificate holders who do not meet the flight review requirements of § 61.56 will be unable to substitute the online training course for the required aeronautical knowledge test. Thus, under § 107.63(a)(2), a part 61 pilot certificate holder seeking to substitute completion of the initial training course for the initial aeronautical knowledge test will have to present his or her logbook upon application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating to demonstrate that he or she has satisfied this requirement. The applicant will also have to present a certificate of completion showing that he or she has completed the initial online training course.

The FAA also notes that the above discussion does not apply to holders of a part 61 student pilot certificate. A person is not required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test, pass a practical (skills) test, or otherwise demonstrate aeronautical knowledge in order to obtain a student pilot certificate. Further, student pilot certificate holders who have received an endorsement for solo flight under § 61.87(b) are only required to demonstrate limited knowledge associated with conducting a specific solo flight. For these reasons, the option to take an online training course instead of an aeronautical knowledge test will not extend to student pilot certificate holders.

j. Areas of Knowledge on the Aeronautical Knowledge Tests and Training Courses for Part  61 Pilot Certificate Holders
The NPRM proposed that the initial aeronautical knowledge test would test the following areas of knowledge: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2) airspace classification and operating requirements, obstacle clearance requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation; (3) official sources of weather and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance; (4) small UAS loading and performance; (5) emergency procedures; (6) crew resource management; (7) radio communication procedures; (8) determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft; (9) physiological effects of drugs and alcohol; (10) aeronautical decision-making and judgment; and (11) airport operations. The NPRM also proposed the following areas of knowledge for the recurrent knowledge test: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2) airspace classification and operating requirements, obstacle clearance requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation; (3) official sources of weather; (4) emergency procedures; (5) crew resource management; (6) aeronautical decision-making and judgment; and (7) airport operations.

For the reasons discussed below, this rule will remove obstacle clearance requirements and add maintenance and inspection procedures as areas of knowledge that will be tested on both the initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests. Further, aviation weather sources will be removed from the recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests. Except for these changes, this rule will finalize all other areas of knowledge as proposed in the NPRM.

With regard to the initial and recurrent training courses for part 61 pilot certificate holders, those courses will only cover UAS-specific areas of knowledge that are not included in the training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate. Thus, the initial training course will cover: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2) small UAS loading and performance; (3) emergency procedures; (4) crew resource management; (5) determining the performance of the small unmanned aircraft; and (6) maintenance and inspection procedures. The recurrent training course will cover: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2) emergency procedures; (3) crew resource management; and (4) maintenance and inspection procedures.

i. Regulations Applicable to Small UAS
The NPRM proposed to include an area of knowledge on both the initial and recurrent knowledge tests that determines whether the test taker knows the regulations applicable to small UAS. By testing the applicant for an airman certificate on knowledge of applicable regulations, the initial and recurrent knowledge tests would ensure that the applicant understands what those regulations require and does not violate them due to ignorance.

The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this aspect of its proposal, and as such, this rule will include regulations applicable to small UAS as an area of knowledge that is tested on both initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests. This area of knowledge will also be included on the initial and recurrent training courses that can be taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders instead of a knowledge test because regulations applicable to a small UAS are a UAS-specific area of knowledge that is not included in the training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate.

ii. Airspace Classifications and Operating Requirements, and Flight
Restrictions Affecting Small Unmanned Aircraft Operation The NPRM also proposed testing (on both the initial and recurrent knowledge tests) knowledge of airspace classification and operating requirements, as well as knowledge of flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation. The NPRM explained that part 107 would include airspace operating requirements, such as the requirement to obtain ATC permission prior to operating in controlled airspace, and in order to comply with those requirements, an airman would need to know how to determine the classification of the airspace in which he or she would like to operate. The NPRM also proposed to test knowledge of how to determine which areas of airspace are prohibited, restricted, or subject to a TFR.

Under the NPRM, this area of knowledge would also be included in the recurrent knowledge test because: (1) airspace that the airman is familiar with could become reclassified over time; (2) the location of existing flight restrictions could change over time; and (3) some airmen may not regularly encounter these issues in their operations. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will include knowledge of airspace classification and operating requirements and knowledge of flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation as an area of knowledge tested on both the initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

The California Agricultural Aircraft Association supported testing on how the airspace is managed, what the rules and regulations are, and how manned aircraft operate in the airspace. Aerius suggested that the knowledge test should include special use airspace, right-of-way rules, visual scanning, aeromedical factors (e.g., the limitations of the human eye), and accident reporting. On the other hand, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asserted that airspace classification is not relevant for low altitude micro UAS flights far away from airports and should not be tested for airmen seeking to operate micro UAS. The FAA declines to eliminate airspace classification as an area of knowledge tested for small UAS operations. As an initial matter, the FAA notes that this rule will not prohibit any small UAS (including micro UAS) from operating near airports. For UAS not operating near an airport, the FAA notes that controlled airspace can extend a significant distance away from an airport. For example, the surface area of Class B airspace can extend up to 8 nautical miles away from an airport. Additionally, airspace classification may change over time; uncontrolled (Class G) airspace may be changed to controlled airspace and vice versa. A remote pilot of any small UAS will need to have the ability to determine what class of airspace his or her small UAS operation will take place in to ensure that the operation complies with the airspace rules of part 107.

In response to Aerius, the FAA notes that special-use airspace will be covered under knowledge of flight restrictions, which will determine the test taker’s knowledge of regulatory restrictions on small UAS flight imposed through means such as prohibited airspace or a TFR. Right-of-way rules, visual scanning, and accident reporting will be covered by the knowledge area of regulations applicable to small UAS operations because all of these concepts are codified in the operational regulations of part 107. Aeromedical factors will not specifically be included on the knowledge test, but the FAA may publish further guidance to remote pilots on topics such as aeromedical factors and visual scanning techniques.

AUVSI recommended that the FAA require more extensive knowledge testing than what was proposed for an operator desiring to fly in Class B, C, D, or E airspace, operate small UAS for commercial purposes, or operate small UAS beyond visual line of sight with risk-based approval. The commenter did not, however, specify what should be included in this more extensive testing, and as such, the FAA is unable to evaluate AUVSI’s suggestion.

iii. Obstacle Clearance Requirements
The NPRM proposed to include obstacle clearance requirements as an area of knowledge to be tested on the initial knowledge test to ensure that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate knows how to avoid creating a collision hazard with a ground structure. One commenter suggested removing this area of knowledge from the knowledge test because, according to the commenter, there are no obstacle clearance requirements in part 107, and therefore, there should be nothing to test. The FAA agrees with this comment and has removed obstacle clearance requirements as an area of knowledge to be tested on the initial knowledge test.

The FAA notes that although the test taker will not be tested on knowledge of obstacle clearance requirements, they will be tested for knowledge of regulations applicable to small UAS, including the requirements of §§ 107.19(c) and 107.23(a), which: (1) prohibit operating a small unmanned aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another; and (2) require the remote pilot in command to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property in the event of loss of control of the aircraft. A small unmanned aircraft flown in a manner that creates a collision hazard with a ground structure may violate one or both of these regulations, especially if there are people near the ground structure who may be hurt as a result of the collision.

iv. Aviation Weather Sources and Effects of Weather on Small Unmanned

Aircraft Performance The NPRM proposed to test, on the initial and recurrent knowledge test, knowledge of official sources of weather. The NPRM also proposed to test on the initial knowledge test whether the applicant understands the effects of weather and micrometeorology (weather on a localized and small scale) on a small unmanned aircraft operation. The NPRM explained that knowledge of weather is necessary for the safe operation of a small unmanned aircraft because, due to the light weight of the small unmanned aircraft, weather could have a significant impact on the flight of the aircraft.

One commenter recommended the removal of “official” from “official weather sources,” saying that operation of a UAS calls for assessment of “local” weather conditions, and, furthermore, that there are no clearly identified “official sources of weather.” Aviation Management suggested that official sources of weather be excluded from the recurrent knowledge test.

The FAA agrees with the commenter that there are no specific “official sources of weather,” and has removed that terminology from this rule. However, the FAA emphasizes that there are several sources of aviation weather useful to remote pilots. Accordingly, remote pilots will be required to be familiar with aviation weather products such as the ones provided by the National Weather Service through Flight Service Stations, Direct User Access Terminal Systems (DUATS), and/or Flight Information Services-Broadcast (FIS-B).140 While this rule does not require the use of those sources of weather for planning flights, aviation weather sources could be a valuable resource for remote pilots that choose to use them. For example, a remote pilot conducting an operation in an area with quickly changing weather may wish to access weather information from an aviation weather source for the most up-to-date weather data to ensure that the small UAS operation will comply with the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements of § 107.51. The FAA notes that aviation weather sources include weather data that can be used to evaluate local weather conditions.141 Because there is no requirement for remote pilots to use aviation weather products on an ongoing basis, the FAA has removed this area of knowledge from the recurrent aeronautical knowledge test.

Accordingly, this rule will include knowledge of aviation weather sources and the effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance on the initial knowledge test. Additionally, this rule will include knowledge of the effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance as an area of knowledge on the initial training course available to part 61 pilot certificate holders because this is a UAS-specific area of knowledge that is not included in the training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate. The training course will not include knowledge of aviation weather sources because that is not a UASspecific area of knowledge.

v. Small UAS Loading and Performance
The NPRM proposed to include weight and balance as an area of knowledge to be tested on the initial knowledge test to ensure that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate knows how to calculate the weight and balance of a small unmanned aircraft to determine impacts on performance. The NPRM noted that in order to operate safely, operators need an understanding of some fundamental aircraft performance issues, including load balancing and weight distribution as well as available power for the operation. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture suggested that the FAA’s proposal suggests a lack of understanding by the FAA of these lightweight aircraft. The commenter added that when they place a battery or camera on their aircraft, it is immediately obvious if something is not balanced.

While the FAA agrees that in some circumstances the effect certain loads may have on the weight, balance, and performance of the aircraft may be obvious—such as adding a five pound weight to one side of a 0.5 pound small unmanned aircraft—other weight distributions and how they affect the balance of the aircraft may be more difficult to surmise. For example, it may not be intuitive for a remote pilot to determine the effect a half-pound battery will have when added to a forty-pound aircraft. Additionally, a remote pilot needs to understand the effect that the added weight will have on the aircraft’s operation over time. For example, while a small unmanned aircraft may be balanced for the first few flights after a weight is added, that weight may influence the aircraft over time
such that during later flights the aircraft is no longer balanced and no longer flying safely. For these reasons, the FAA will include a section on the initial knowledge test ensuring that a remote pilot applicant understands how to calculate the weight and balance of a small unmanned aircraft and the resulting impacts on performance. Because small unmanned aircraft loading is a UAS-specific area of knowledge, the FAA will also include it on the initial training course that part 61 pilot certificate holders can take in place of the knowledge test.

vi. Emergency Procedures
The NPRM noted that a small UAS airman may have to deal with an emergency situation during a small UAS operation. As such, the NPRM proposed to include an area of knowledge on the initial knowledge test that would determine whether the applicant knows how to properly respond to an emergency. The NPRM also proposed to include knowledge of emergency procedures on the recurrent knowledge test because emergency situations will likely be infrequent and as such, a certificate holder’s knowledge of emergency procedures may become stale over time. The FAA did not receive adverse comments on including emergency procedures on the initial knowledge test, and as such, this area of knowledge will be included on the initial knowledge test.

Turning to the recurrent knowledge test, Aviation Management recommended that the FAA remove emergency procedures as an area of knowledge covered on that test. The FAA declines to remove emergency procedures from the recurrent knowledge test. As discussed in the NPRM, emergency situations will likely arise infrequently, and as such, a remote pilot’s knowledge of emergency procedures may become stale over time. Accordingly, including this area of knowledge on the recurrent knowledge test will ensure that the remote pilot retains the knowledge of how to properly respond to an emergency. Because this area of knowledge is UAS-specific, it will also be included on the initial and recurrent training courses that can be taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders instead of an initial or recurrent knowledge test.

vii. Crew Resource Management
The NPRM proposed to include crew resource management as an area of knowledge to be tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests to ensure that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate knows how to function in a team environment, such as when visual observers are used to assist a remote pilot. In those circumstances, the remote pilot would be in charge of those observers and therefore need an understanding of crew resource management.

Several commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, Princeton University, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued that crew resource management may not be relevant for all small UAS operations and, as such, should be removed from the knowledge test. Princeton University added that crew resource management would be an irrelevant area of knowledge for student operators who will be operating the aircraft at a low altitude, for a limited distance, on university property, and under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Electronic Frontier Foundation stated that this area of knowledge is irrelevant for micro UAS operations.

One commenter suggested removal of crew resource management stating it is “overkill” and is really just referring to possible communications between the pilot and the visual observer. If kept, the commenter suggested modifying it to “Crew resource management as it may pertain to operation of a small unmanned aircraft system.” The FAA acknowledges that not all small UAS operations will utilize a visual observer or more than one manipulator of the controls of the small unmanned aircraft. However, the FAA anticipates that many remote pilots operating under part 107 will likely use a visual observer or oversee other individuals that may manipulate the controls of the small unmanned aircraft. In order to allow flexibility for certificated remote pilots to determine whether or not to use a visual observer or oversee other individuals manipulating the controls of the small unmanned aircraft, the FAA must ensure that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate is able to function in a team environment and maximize team performance. This includes situational awareness, proper allocation of tasks to individuals, avoidance of work overloads in self and in others, and effectively communicating with other members of the crew such as visual observers and individuals manipulating the controls of a small UAS.

The scenario Princeton University provided in its comment is precisely the type of scenario that would require a certificated remote pilot in command to have an understanding of crew resource management. The remote pilot in command in Princeton University’s scenario would be supervising a student who is manipulating the controls of the small unmanned aircraft. Therefore, the remote pilot in command in that scenario would need to know how to effectively communicate and guide his or her crew (the student). In response to Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FAA notes that even remote pilots operating smaller UAS may choose to use a visual observer or supervise other manipulators of the controls.

It is not necessary to change the title of this area of knowledge because crew resource management correctly captures what this area of knowledge will cover. The FAA also notes that this rule will include crew resource management as an area of knowledge on the initial and recurrent training courses available to part 61 pilot certificate holders because this is a UAS-specific area of knowledge.

viii. Determining the Performance of the Small Unmanned Aircraft
The NPRM proposed to include an area of knowledge on the initial aeronautical knowledge test to ensure that an applicant knows how to determine the performance of the small unmanned aircraft. Aviation Management suggested that this area of knowledge be excluded from the initial knowledge test because, the commenter argued, this knowledge is unnecessary for all small UAS operations.

The FAA will retain determining the performance of the small unmanned aircraft as an area of knowledge on the initial knowledge test. As discussed in section III.E.6.a.i of this preamble, the remote pilot in command will be required to conduct a preflight assessment of the area of operation and ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property if there is a loss of positive control. In order to be able to do that, the remote pilot in command will need to be able to assess how a small unmanned aircraft will perform in a given operating environment. This area of knowledge will determine whether an applicant for a remote pilot certificate has acquired the knowledge necessary to conduct this assessment.

This rule will also include this area of knowledge on the initial training course that can be taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders instead of an initial knowledge test because it is a UAS-specific area of knowledge.

ix. Physiological Effects Of Drugs and Alcohol
The NPRM proposed to include the physiological effects of drugs and alcohol as an area of knowledge covered by the initial knowledge test. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that knowledge of the effects of drugs and alcohol is irrelevant for micro UAS operations and should not be tested for pilots of a micro UAS. The FAA disagrees. As explained in the NPRM, there are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that can significantly reduce an individual’s cognitive ability to process and react to events that are happening around him or her. This can lead to impaired decision-making, which could adversely affect the safety of any small UAS operation. Accordingly, the initial aeronautical knowledge test will include an area of knowledge to determine whether the applicant understands how drugs and alcohol can impact his or her ability to safely operate a small UAS.

x. Aeronautical Decision-Making and Judgment
The NPRM proposed to include aeronautical decision-making and judgment as an area of knowledge tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests. Aviation Management suggested that this area of knowledge be excluded from the knowledge tests because this knowledge is unnecessary for all small UAS operations.

The FAA disagrees. As discussed in the NPRM, even though small unmanned aircraft will be limited to a relatively low altitude by the provisions of this rule, they will still share the airspace with some manned-aircraft operations. To safely share the airspace, a remote pilot in command will need to understand the aeronautical decision-making and judgment that manned aircraft pilots engage in so that he or she can anticipate how a manned aircraft will react to the small unmanned aircraft. Accordingly, this rule will retain aeronautical decision-making and judgment as an area of knowledge covered on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

xi. Airport Operations
Noting that some small UAS operations could be conducted near an airport, the NPRM proposed to include airport operations as an area of knowledge tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

Several commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, Princeton University, and Predessa, argued that airport operations may not be relevant to all small UAS operations, and as such, should be removed from the knowledge tests. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that this area of knowledge is “clearly irrelevant” for micro UAS flights conducted far away from airports.

There are over 5,000 public use airports in the United States. As such, the FAA expects that a number of small UAS operations may take place near an airport. The FAA also expects that there could be instances where a small unmanned aircraft unexpectedly ends up flying near an airport due to adverse conditions, such as unexpectedly strong winds that carry the aircraft toward the airport. In those instances, the remote pilot in command will need to have an understanding of airport operations so that he or she knows what actions to take to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft does not interfere with airport operations or traffic patterns. Accordingly, this rule will retain airport operations as an area of knowledge tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

xii. Radio Communication Procedures
Finally, the NPRM proposed to include radio communication procedures as an area of knowledge covered on the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

Several commenters, including Princeton University, Predesa, and Aviation Management, argued that radio communications may not be relevant for all small UAS operations and as such, should be removed from the knowledge test. Predesa suggested that the FAA design a new “Class G-only unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating” that, among other things, does not include radio communication procedures as an area of knowledge that is tested on the knowledge test. One commenter recommended removal of “radio communication procedures” because there is no requirement for radio communications of any sort with small UAS operations.

As discussed earlier, the FAA expects that a number of small UAS operations will take place near an airport. That is why § 107.43 prohibits a small unmanned aircraft from interfering with airport operations or traffic patterns. Understanding radio communication procedures will assist a remote pilot in command operating near a Class G airport in complying with this requirement. Understanding radio communication procedures will assist a remote pilot in command operating near a Class G airport in complying with this requirement if that pilot chooses to use a radio to aid in his or her situational awareness of manned aircraft operating nearby. As described in section 4-1-9 of the Aeronautical Information Manual, manned-aircraft pilots may broadcast their position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). This procedure is used primarily at airports that do not have an airport traffic control tower, or have a control tower that is not in operation. Pilots of radio-equipped aircraft use standard phraseology to announce their identification, location, altitude, and intended course of action. Self-announcing for arriving aircraft generally begins within 10 nautical miles of the airport and continues until the aircraft is clear of runways and taxiways. Aircraft on the ground intending to depart will begin to make position reports prior to entry of the runway or taxiway and continue until departing the traffic pattern. Aircraft remaining in the pattern make position reports on each leg of the traffic pattern. Thus, knowledge of radio communication procedures will provide a remote pilot in command with the ability to utilize a valuable resource, CTAF, to help determine the position of nearby manned aircraft. As such, this rule will retain this area of knowledge on the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

xiii. Other Areas of Knowledge Suggested by The Commenters
The NPRM invited comment on whether additional areas of knowledge should be tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests. In response, the FAA received comments listing additional areas of knowledge that commenters would like to see on the knowledge tests. For the reasons discussed below, the FAA will add a section on maintenance and inspection to the initial and recurrent knowledge tests and the online training courses. The FAA will not add any other areas of knowledge to the knowledge tests or training courses.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that the test content should include awareness of lost-link failsafe procedures, operator development, use of maintenance and inspection steps and guides, and the characteristics and proper handling of lithium batteries. The NTSB referred to an April 2006 accident involving a U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned aircraft and encouraged the FAA to review its recommendations and supporting information stemming from that accident for potential lessons learned when developing guidance material and specific content for the written knowledge tests outlined in proposed part 107.

The FAA notes that topics associated with lost-link failsafe procedures will be covered by the area of knowledge testing an applicant’s understanding of the applicable small UAS regulations. With regard to maintenance and inspection, the FAA has taken action by adding maintenance and inspection knowledge test topic area requirements to the initial and recurrent knowledge tests. The addition of maintenance and inspection knowledge test topics will consist of small UAS basic maintenance and inspection knowledge that is common to all small UAS regardless of complexity. An understanding of maintenance and inspection issues will ensure that remote pilots are familiar with how to identify when a small unmanned aircraft is not safe to operate, and how to maintain a small
unmanned aircraft to mitigate the possibility of aircraft failure during flight. Although this area of knowledge will not cover every possible inspection and maintenance method, it will
provide a baseline of knowledge that will be useful to all small UAS remote pilots. The FAA disagrees with NTSB’s recommendation that the knowledge test include a topic on the characteristics and proper handling of lithium batteries. Under § 107.36, small  UAS are prohibited from carriage of hazardous materials. When installed in the aircraft for use as a power source (as opposed to carriage of spares or cargo), lithium batteries are not considered hazardous material.

NOAA suggested that the knowledge test include questions relating to protecting and operating in the context of wildlife. The Ventura Audubon Society also suggested that the FAA test an applicant’s understanding of Federal and State wildlife protection laws. The FAA is required by statute to issue an airman certificate to an individual when the Administrator finds that the individual is qualified and physically able to safely perform the duties authorized by the certificate. See 49 U.S.C. 44703(a) (stating that the Administrator “shall issue” an airman certificate to an individual who is qualified and physically capable). Therefore, the FAA cannot deny or delay the issuance of an airman certificate if an applicant has demonstrated that he or she is qualified and physically able to safely perform the duties authorized by the certificate. In this case, a remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating authorizes the holder to operate a small UAS safely in the NAS. Thus, under § 44703(a), the FAA is required to issue an airman certificate to an individual who has demonstrated an ability to safely operate a small UAS, and may not require that individual to also demonstrate an understanding of Federal and State wildlife protection laws.

The FAA emphasizes, however, that a small UAS operation may be subject to other legal requirements independently of this rule. A remote pilot in command is responsible for complying with all of his or her legal obligations and should thus have a proper understanding of wildlife protection laws in order to comply with the pertinent statutes and regulations.

Drone User Group Network suggested the following topics for the knowledge test: the concepts of lift, weight, thrust and drag, Bernoulli’s principle, weight and balance, weather, situational awareness, safety in preflight, in flight and post flight, battery theory, radio frequency theory, electrical theory, understanding flight modes, fail-safes, and aircraft types and limitations

The FAA notes that weight and balance, weather, and preflight requirements will be tested under § 107.73. The FAA agrees with the commenter that technical topics such as principles of flight, aerodynamics, and electrical theory may enhance the knowledge and technical understanding of the remote pilot. However, these topics are not critical subject areas for safe operation of small UAS. The FAA includes many of these topics in the curriculum of part 61 knowledge testing because they are critical knowledge areas for persons operating an aircraft with passengers over populated areas that may need to respond to an emergency resulting from engine failure, unexpected weather, or onboard fire. Conversely, small UAS operations take place in a contained area in a light-weight aircraft that has no people onboard, so these topics are not applicable to the same extent as they are to a manned-aircraft operation. However, the remote pilot in command should familiarize him or herself with all of the necessary information to be able to fly the unmanned aircraft without causing damage to the aircraft.

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association encouraged the FAA to require that operators be knowledgeable about Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), which could be used to collect data to support a risk managed growth of the industry and the integration into the NAS. The FAA disagrees that SMS and ASRS systems should be covered on the knowledge tests. Participation in a formal SMS program is currently required only for part 121 operations, which are the largest and most complex manned-aircraft operations regulated by the FAA. Requiring small UAS to participate in this program would not be justified considering the fact that the FAA does not require non-part-121 manned-aircraft operations to have an SMS. Similarly, the FAA will not require testing on ASRS knowledge because ASRS is not currently required knowledge for part 61 pilot certificate holders.

k. Administration of the Knowledge Tests and Training Courses
This section discusses how the initial and recurrent knowledge tests and online training courses will be administered under this rule. Specifically, this section addresses: (1) the location at which a knowledge test can be taken; (2) the prohibition on cheating and engaging in unauthorized conduct during a knowledge test; (3) the identification of the test taker; and (4) retesting after failing a knowledge test.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests. (2018)

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Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

(a) An initial aeronautical knowledge test covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Airspace classification, operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation;

(3) Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;

(4) Small unmanned aircraft loading;

(5) Emergency procedures;

(6) Crew resource management;

(7) Radio communication procedures;

(8) Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft;

(9) Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;

(10) Aeronautical decision-making and judgment;

(11) Airport operations; and

(12) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

(b) A recurrent aeronautical knowledge test covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Airspace classification and operating requirements and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation;

(3) Emergency procedures;

(4) Crew resource management;

(5) Aeronautical decision-making and judgment;

(6) Airport operations; and

(7) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

My Commentary on Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UA in the NAS. This aeronautical knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard (https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/) that provides the necessary reference material. Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate. 6.6.1 Initial Test. As described in paragraph 6.4, a person applying for remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given by an FAA-approved KTC. The initial knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below: 1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation; 2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small UA operation; 3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small UA performance; 4. Small UA loading and performance; 5. Emergency procedures; 6. Crew Resource Management (CRM); 7. Radio communication procedures; 8. Determining the performance of small UA; 9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol; 10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment; 11. Airport operations; and 12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures. 6.6.1.1 A part 61 certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete an initial online training course instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7). 6/21/16 AC 107-2 6-5 6.6.1.2 Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B. 6.6.2 Recurrent Test. After a person receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a remote pilot certificate, the certificate holder must pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. A part 61 pilot certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete a recurrent online training course instead of taking the knowledge test.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UA in the NAS. This aeronautical knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard (https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/) that provides the necessary reference material.

Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate.

6.6.1 Initial Test. As described in paragraph 6.4, a person applying for remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given by an FAA-approved KTC. The initial knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small UA operation;
3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small UA performance;
4. Small UA loading and performance;
5. Emergency procedures;
6. Crew Resource Management (CRM);
7. Radio communication procedures;
8. Determining the performance of small UA;
9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;
10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment;
11. Airport operations; and
12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

6.6.1.1 A part 61 certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete an initial online training course instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7).

6.6.1.2 Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B.

6.6.2 Recurrent Test. After a person receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a remote pilot certificate, the certificate holder must pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. A part 61 pilot certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete a recurrent online training course instead of taking the knowledge test.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

The FAA notes that weight and balance, weather, and preflight requirements will be tested under § 107.73. The FAA agrees with the commenter that technical topics such as principles of flight, aerodynamics, and electrical theory may enhance the knowledge and technical understanding of the remote pilot. However, these topics are not critical subject areas for safe operation of small UAS. The FAA includes many of these topics in the curriculum of part 61 knowledge testing because they are critical knowledge areas for persons operating an aircraft with passengers over populated areas that may need to respond to an emergency resulting from engine failure, unexpected weather, or onboard fire. Conversely, small UAS operations take place in a contained area in a light-weight aircraft that has no people onboard, so these topics are not applicable to the same extent as they are to a manned-aircraft operation. However, the remote pilot in command should familiarize him or herself with all of the necessary information to be able to fly the unmanned aircraft without causing damage to the aircraft.

………………..

The NPRM proposed requiring applicants for a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test to demonstrate that they have sufficient aeronautical knowledge to safely operate a small UAS. The FAA adopts the provisions as proposed with three changes. First, as discussed in III.F.2.i below, the FAA exempts part 61 pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete an initial knowledge test as long as they satisfy the flight review requirements of their part 61 pilot certificate and complete an online training course within the preceding 24 months. Second, as discussed in III.F.2.h below, the FAA will require that pilots with military experience operating unmanned aircraft pass an initial knowledge test in order to obtain a remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating, and pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months subsequent in order to continue to exercise the privileges of that certificate.

Many commenters, including National Association of State Aviation Officials, NAAA, ALPA, and NAMIC, supported the FAA’s proposal to require an initial aeronautical knowledge test in order to operate a small UAS. Conversely, several commenters opposed the initial aeronautical knowledge test. Commenters argued that initial testing is “overkill” and the FAA should treat small UAS pilots like part 103 ultralight vehicle pilots and not require airman certification or testing. The commenters further argued that all testing is unnecessary and inappropriate.

The FAA disagrees with the commenters who asked that the knowledge test be abolished. Title 49 U.S.C. 44703 requires the FAA to ensure that an airman certificate applicant is qualified and able to perform the duties related to the position to be authorized by the certificate.

Here, in order to meet its statutory obligation to determine that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate possesses the knowledge necessary to safely operate in the NAS, the FAA is requiring that those persons pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test. Knowledge testing is the most flexible and efficient means for ensuring that a remote pilot possesses the requisite knowledge to operate in the NAS because it allows the applicant to acquire the pertinent knowledge in whatever manner works best for him or her. The applicant can then take and pass the aeronautical knowledge test to verify that he or she has indeed acquired the pertinent areas of knowledge.

NAFI recommended that an applicant should be required to obtain an instructor endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. SkyView Strategies suggested that to protect the public from a poorly prepared UAS operator who receives a passing grade but gets important questions wrong, the UAS operator should be required to present to a flight training instructor his or her written test results, noting areas where knowledge is lacking.

The FAA disagrees with the recommendation that an applicant should be required to obtain an instructor endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. While an instructor endorsement is generally required for part 61 pilot certificates, the significantly reduced risk associated with small UAS operations conducted under part 107 would make this framework unduly burdensome in this case. Instead, a stand-alone knowledge test is sufficient to verify the qualification of the remote pilot certificate applicant.

Because the aeronautical knowledge test will determine whether an applicant possesses the knowledge needed to safely operate a small UAS, a separate flight instructor endorsement should not be required to take the knowledge test. The FAA also notes that the costs associated with failing and having to retake the knowledge test will provide an incentive to applicants to pick a method of study that maximizes the chance of them passing the aeronautical knowledge test on the first try.

The FAA also does not agree that a certificate applicant should be required to present to a flight instructor his or her knowledge test results for remedial training. The FAA maintains that if a candidate is “poorly prepared,” then that person is unlikely to pass the knowledge test.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture suggested that a more appropriate “aeronautical knowledge exam” needs to be developed with input from UAS users. It further suggested that the FAA should periodically revisit the scope of the aeronautical knowledge test as operational experience data increases. FAA knowledge test banks are continuously updated to address changes to the industry, safety, and special emphasis areas. While the FAA responds to industry and user community feedback, the small UAS knowledge test bank is developed internally within the agency to protect the integrity of test.

g. General Requirement for Recurrent Aeronautical Knowledge Test
The FAA proposed that a certificated remote pilot must also pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months. Like the flight review requirement specified in § 61.56, the recurrent knowledge test provides the opportunity for a remote pilot’s aeronautical knowledge to be reevaluated on a periodic basis. The FAA adopts this provision as proposed, with one change. As discussed in III.F.2.i, the FAA exempts part 61 pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete recurrent knowledge tests as long as they satisfy the flight review requirements of § 61.56 and complete an online training course every 24 months .

ALPA, AOPA, AUVSI and several other commenters supported the requirement for a recurrent knowledge test. Conversely, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and a few individual commenters argued that a recurrent knowledge test is unnecessary. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association explained that small UAS operations present a substantially reduced risk as compared to manned-aircraft operations. Therefore, the commenter argued, it is appropriate to impose different, and in some instances lesser, operational requirements.

The FAA disagrees with the notion that no periodic reevaluation of knowledge is necessary. Knowledge of rules, regulations, and operating principles erodes over time, particularly if the remote pilot is not required to recall such information on a frequent basis. This is a fundamental principle of airman certification, and it applies to all FAA- certificated airmen. For part 61 pilot certificate holders, the flight review, conducted under § 61.56, specifically requires “[a] review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91” in addition to maneuvers necessary to safely exercise the privileges of the certificate. Likewise, the FAA considers a recurrent knowledge test to be an effective means of evaluating a remote pilot’s retention of knowledge necessary to safely operate small unmanned aircraft in the NAS. Because of the reduced risk posed by small UAS, the FAA is not requiring remote pilots to demonstrate a minimum level of flight proficiency to a specific standard or recency of flight experience in order to exercise the privileges of their airman certificate.

Drone Labs suggested extending the time period between recurrent tests to 5 years, and/or making the test available online to ease recertification. Kansas Farm Bureau recommended a 6-year interval between recurrent tests, similar to the interval for renewal of a driver’s license.

The FAA does not agree that the recurrent testing interval should be longer than two years. Unlike the privileges afforded by a driver’s license, which are exercised on a frequent basis by most drivers, many holders of remote pilot certificates may only exercise their privileges occasionally or may not regularly conduct operations that apply all of the concepts tested on the aeronautical knowledge test. For example, a remote pilot in command may spend years never operating outside of Class G airspace, and then may move to a different location that requires him or her to begin conducting small UAS operations in Class D airspace. Based on experience with manned pilots, those persons who exercise the privileges of their certificate on an infrequent basis are likely to retain the knowledge for a shorter period of time than those who exercise the privileges of their certificate on a regular basis.

Further, as unmanned aircraft operations increase in the NAS, the FAA anticipates the possibility of further changes to rules and regulations. By requiring evaluation on a two-year cycle, the FAA is able to ensure that remote pilots are aware of the most recent changes to regulations affecting their operations.

The FAA acknowledges, however, the burden associated with in-person testing every two years. As such, the FAA intends to look at (in the Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Over People rule) alternative methods to further reduce this burden without sacrificing the safety benefits afforded by a two-year recurrent knowledge check.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.71 Retesting after failure. (2018)

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Section 107.71 Retesting after failure.


An applicant for a knowledge test who fails that test may not reapply for the test for 14 calendar days after failing the test.

My Commentary on Section 107.71 Retesting after failure.

So on top of this regulation forcing you to wait 14 days, you have to pay another $150 to take the test again.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.71 Retesting after failure.

None

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.71 Retesting after failure from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

The NPRM noted that some applicants may fail the initial aeronautical knowledge test the first time that they take it. To ensure that those applicants take the time to do additional studying and/or training (rather than simply take the test over and over again), the NPRM proposed to require that a person who fails the aeronautical knowledge test must wait 14 calendar days before retaking it. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will finalize this provision as proposed in the NPRM. 14 CFR 107.71.

One commenter suggested that an applicant who fails the knowledge test should be required to receive additional training in the area(s) of deficiency and receive an endorsement from a flight instructor in order to retake the test. The commenter rationalized that this would be consistent with current policy for pilot applicants with regards to failure and retesting, and will enhance safety by ensuring some level of oversight in the training process.

A person who fails the aeronautical knowledge test will receive a knowledge test report pointing out the areas of knowledge on which he or she did not test well. That person will then have 14 days to conduct additional study or training in those areas of knowledge prior to retaking the knowledge test. Specifying a prescriptive method of study is not necessary in this rule. Instead, the applicant will be incentivized to select the method of study that works best for him or her.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.

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Section 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.

(a) An applicant for a knowledge test may not:

(1) Copy or intentionally remove any knowledge test;

(2) Give to another applicant or receive from another applicant any part or copy of a knowledge test;

(3) Give or receive assistance on a knowledge test during the period that test is being given;

(4) Take any part of a knowledge test on behalf of another person;

(5) Be represented by, or represent, another person for a knowledge test;

(6) Use any material or aid during the period that the test is being given, unless specifically authorized to do so by the Administrator; and

(7) Intentionally cause, assist, or participate in any act prohibited by this paragraph.

(b) An applicant who the Administrator finds has committed an act prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section is prohibited, for 1 year after the date of committing that act, from:

(1) Applying for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this chapter; and

(2) Applying for and taking any test under this chapter.

(c) Any certificate or rating held by an applicant may be suspended or revoked if the Administrator finds that person has committed an act prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section.

My Commentary on Section 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.

Seriously, don’t mess around with cheating. This is really bad because it spills over onto all certificates, ratings, or authorizations issued under the chapter. This means manned, and unmanned, certificates, Airspace authorizations, etc. On top of that, if you are manned aircraft pilot, you could have your certificate revoked.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.

None

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

To ensure that the aeronautical knowledge test is properly administered, the NPRM proposed to prohibit an applicant from cheating or engaging in other unauthorized conduct during the knowledge test. This would include: (1) copying or intentionally removing a knowledge test; (2) giving a copy of a knowledge test to another applicant or receiving a copy of the knowledge test from another applicant; (3) giving or receiving unauthorized assistance while the knowledge test is being administered; (4) taking any part of a knowledge test on behalf of another person; (5) being represented by or representing another person for a knowledge test; and (6) using any material not specifically authorized by the FAA while taking a knowledge test. Cheating or engaging in unauthorized conduct during a knowledge test would be grounds for suspending or revoking the certificate or denying an application for a certificate. In addition, a person who engages in unauthorized conduct would be prohibited from applying for a certificate or taking a knowledge test for a period of one year after the date of the unauthorized conduct.

The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this component of the proposed rule. Accordingly, this rule will finalize the cheating or engaging-in-unauthorized-conduct provisions of the NPRM as proposed. 14 CFR 107.69

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.

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Section 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.

(a) Knowledge tests prescribed by or under this part are given by persons and in the manner designated by the Administrator.

(b) An applicant for a knowledge test must have proper identification at the time of application that contains the applicant’s:

(1) Photograph;

(2) Signature;

(3) Date of birth, which shows the applicant meets or will meet the age requirements of this part for the certificate and rating sought before the expiration date of the airman knowledge test report; and

(4) Permanent mailing address. If the applicant’s permanent mailing address is a post office box number, then the applicant must also provide a current residential address.

(c) The minimum passing grade for the knowledge test will be specified by the Administrator.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.

Pay attention that you have to be 16 to have a remote pilot certificate but a minimum of 14 to TAKE the remote pilot knowledge exam.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.

KTCs will administer initial and recurrent examinations provided by the FAA. In order to take an aeronautical knowledge test, an applicant will be required to schedule an appointment with the KTC providing proper government-issued photo identification to the KTC on the day of scheduled testing. The location of the closest KTC can be found at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/media/test_centers.pdf.

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

The NPRM proposed to ensure that an applicant who is about to take the knowledge test is properly identified by requiring the applicant to present identification to the knowledge testing center prior to taking the knowledge test. This identification would have to include the applicant’s: (1) photograph; (2) signature; (3) date of birth, which shows the applicant meets or will meet the age requirement for a remote pilot certificate; and (4) the applicant’s current residential address. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will finalize this aspect of the NPRM as proposed.

An individual commenter questioned an apparent contradiction in the NPRM, which would allow knowledge testing centers to verify an applicant’s identification for the purposes of administering a knowledge test but would prohibit knowledge testing centers from verifying identification for the purposes of submitting an airman application. The commenter added that if the goal of this rule is to achieve the least burdensome process, then knowledge testing centers should be permitted to verify a person’s identification for both testing and application submission to the FAA.

The FAA acknowledges the positive identification conducted by the knowledge testing centers, and has determined that there is no need to repeatedly identify a person who has already been positively identified for the purposes of taking the knowledge test. Accordingly, as discussed later in section III.F.l, this rule will allow an applicant to submit his or her remote pilot application without having to be positively identified a second time.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency. (2018)

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Section 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.

A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft system unless that person has completed one of the following, within the previous 24 calendar months:

(a) Passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in §107.73(a);

(b) Passed a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in §107.73(b); or

(c) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in §§61.56, passed either an initial or recurrent training course covering the areas of knowledge specified in §107.74(a) or (b) in a manner acceptable to the Administrator.

My Commentary on Section 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.

Think of these as multiple doors. A Part 61 certificated pilot could go through all three doors. An already certificated remote pilot could go through (a) and (b).

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.

 

Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UA in the NAS. This aeronautical knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard (https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/) that provides the necessary reference material.

Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate.

6.6.1 Initial Test. As described in paragraph 6.4, a person applying for remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given by an FAA-approved KTC. The initial knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small UA operation;
3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small UA performance;
4. Small UA loading and performance;
5. Emergency procedures;
6. Crew Resource Management (CRM);
7. Radio communication procedures;
8. Determining the performance of small UA;
9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;
10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment;
11. Airport operations; and
12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

6.6.1.1 A part 61 certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete an initial online training course instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7).

6.6.1.2 Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B.

6.6.2 Recurrent Test. After a person receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a remote pilot certificate, the certificate holder must pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. A part 61 pilot certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete a recurrent online training course instead of taking the knowledge test.

6.6.2.2 The recurrent aeronautical knowledge test areas are as follows:

1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Airspace classification and operating requirements and flight restrictions affecting small UA operation;
3. Emergency procedures;
4. CRM;
5. ADM and judgment;
6. Airport operations; and
7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

6.6.3 Test Providers. KTCs will administer initial and recurrent examinations provided by the FAA. In order to take an aeronautical knowledge test, an applicant will be required to schedule an appointment with the KTC providing proper government-issued photo identification to the KTC on the day of scheduled testing. The location of the closest KTC can be found at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/media/test_centers.pdf.

Aeronautical Knowledge Training Course (Initial and Recurrent). This section is applicable only to persons who hold a part 61 airman certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, and have a current flight review.

6.7.1 Initial Training Course. As described in paragraph 6.4, a pilot applying for a remote pilot certificate may complete an initial training course instead of the knowledge test. The training course can be taken online at www.faasafety.gov. The initial training course will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Effects of weather on small UA performance;
3. Small UA loading and performance;
4. Emergency procedures;
5. CRM;
6. Determining the performance of small UA; and
7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.
Note: Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be found in Appendix B.

6.7.2 Recurrent Training Course. After a pilot receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating, that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. As a renewal process, the remote pilot must complete either a recurrent training course or a recurrent knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. Figure 6-2, Recurrent Training Course Cycle Examples, illustrates an individual’s possible renewal cycles.

The recurrent training course areas are as follows:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Emergency procedures;
3. CRM; and
4. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

The FAA took a risk-based approach to defining the airman certification requirements for small UAS remote pilots, and in light of the contained nature of operations, opted not to propose specific training, flight experience, or demonstration of proficiency in order to be eligible for a certificate. A remote pilot certificate applicant’s knowledge of small UAS, as well as regulations concerning safe operations in the NAS, can adequately be evaluated through an initial and recurrent knowledge tests. A person whohas acquired the pertinent knowledge will pass the knowledge tests while a person who has not done so will fail the test.

In response to commenters’ concerns about rote memorization, the FAA notes that in addition to passing the initial knowledge test, remote pilot certificate holders will also have to pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years to ensure that they have retainedthe knowledge necessary to safely operate in the NAS. Further, remote pilot certificate holders will also be subject to continuing FAA oversight. The FAA emphasizes that under  49 U.S.C. 44709 and § 107.7(b), the FAA may reexamine a certificated remote pilot if it has sufficient reason to believe that the remote pilot may not be qualified to exercise the privileges of his or her certificate.137 Because the qualification framework for the remote pilot certificate is based on aeronautical knowledge, a reexamination under section 44709 and § 107.7(b) would be limited to the certificate holder’s aeronautical knowledge. The reexamination may be conducted using an oral or written knowledge test.

A prescriptive formal training requirement is not necessary in this rule. Instead, this rule will allow remote pilot certificate applicants to attain the necessary aeronautical knowledge through any number of different methods, including self-study, enrolling in a training seminar or online course, or through one-on-one instruction with a trainer familiar with small UAS operations and part 107. This performance-based approach is preferable because it will allow individuals to select a method of study that works best for them. These methods of study will then be validated by whether or not the individual is able to pass the knowledge test. As noted in OMB Circular A-4, performance-based standards are generally preferable in a regulation because they allow the regulated parties “to choose the most cost-effective methods for achieving the regulatory goal and create an incentive for innovative solutions.”

The FAA will publish Advisory Circulars to assist remote pilots in operating small UAS safely in the NAS. The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) will also host online training courses. These training courses could be used as one method of studying for the knowledge test. Lastly, because there is already a robust network of nearly 700 testing centers located throughout the country set up to administer FAA knowledge tests, the FAA has opted not to establish new standards for small UAS remote pilot testing centers.

f. General Requirement for Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test

The NPRM proposed requiring applicants for a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test to demonstrate that they have sufficient aeronautical knowledge to safely operate a small UAS. The FAA adopts the provisions as proposed with three changes. First, as discussed in III.F.2.i below, the FAA exempts part 61 pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete an initial knowledge test as long as they satisfy the flight review requirements of their part 61 pilot certificate and complete an online training course within the preceding 24 months. Second, as discussed in III.F.2.h below, the FAA will require that pilots with military experience operating unmanned aircraft pass an initial knowledge test in order to obtain a remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating, and pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months subsequent in order to continue to exercise the privileges of that certificate.

Many commenters, including National Association of State Aviation Officials, NAAA, ALPA, and NAMIC, supported the FAA’s proposal to require an initial aeronautical knowledge test in order to operate a small UAS. Conversely, several commenters opposed the initial aeronautical knowledge test. Commenters argued that initial testing is “overkill” and the FAA should treat small UAS pilots like part 103 ultralight vehicle pilots and not require airman certification or testing. The commenters further argued that all testing is unnecessary and inappropriate.

The FAA disagrees with the commenters who asked that the knowledge test be abolished. Title 49 U.S.C. 44703 requires the FAA to ensure that an airman certificate applicant is qualified and able to perform the duties related to the position to be authorized by the certificate.

Here, in order to meet its statutory obligation to determine that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate possesses the knowledge necessary to safely operate in the NAS, the FAA is requiring that those persons pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test. Knowledge testing is the most flexible and efficient means for ensuring that a remote pilot possesses the requisite knowledge to operate in the NAS because it allows the applicant to acquire the pertinent knowledge in whatever manner works best for him or her. The applicant can then take and pass the aeronautical knowledge test to verify that he or she has indeed acquired the pertinent areas of knowledge.

NAFI recommended that an applicant should be required to obtain an instructor endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. SkyView Strategies suggested that to protect the public from a poorly prepared UAS operator who receives a passing grade but gets important questions wrong, the UAS operator should be required to present to a flight training instructor his or her written test results, noting areas where knowledge is lacking.

The FAA disagrees with the recommendation that an applicant should be required to obtain an instructor endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. While an instructor endorsement is generally required for part 61 pilot certificates, the significantly reduced risk associated with small UAS operations conducted under part 107 would make this framework unduly burdensome in this case. Instead, a stand-alone knowledge test is sufficient to verify the qualification of the remote pilot certificate applicant. Because the aeronautical knowledge test will determine whether an applicant possesses the knowledge needed to safely operate a small UAS, a separate flight instructor endorsement should not be required to take the knowledge test. The FAA also notes that the costs associated with failing and having to retake the knowledge test will provide an incentive to applicants to pick a method of study that maximizes the chance of them passing the aeronautical knowledge test on the first try.

The FAA also does not agree that a certificate applicant should be required to present to a flight instructor his or her knowledge test results for remedial training. The FAA maintains that if a candidate is “poorly prepared,” then that person is unlikely to pass the knowledge test.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture suggested that a more appropriate “aeronautical knowledge exam” needs to be developed with input from UAS users. It further suggested that the FAA should periodically revisit the scope of the aeronautical knowledge test as operational experience data increases. FAA knowledge test banks are continuously updated to address changes to the industry, safety, and special emphasis areas. While the FAA responds to industry and user community feedback, the small UAS knowledge test bank is developed internally within the agency to protect the integrity of test.

g. General Requirement for Recurrent Aeronautical Knowledge Test
The FAA proposed that a certificated remote pilot must also pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months. Like the flight review requirement specified in § 61.56, the recurrent knowledge test provides the opportunity for a remote pilot’s aeronautical knowledge to be reevaluated on a periodic basis. The FAA adopts this provision as proposed, with one change. As discussed in III.F.2.i, the FAA exempts part 61 pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete recurrent knowledge tests as long as they satisfy the flight review requirements of § 61.56 and complete an online training course every 24 months.

ALPA, AOPA, AUVSI and several other commenters supported the requirement for a recurrent knowledge test. Conversely, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and a few individual commenters argued that a recurrent knowledge test is unnecessary. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association explained that small UAS operations present a substantially reduced risk as compared to manned-aircraft operations. Therefore, the commenter argued, it is appropriate to impose different, and in some instances lesser, operational requirements.

The FAA disagrees with the notion that no periodic reevaluation of knowledge is necessary. Knowledge of rules, regulations, and operating principles erodes over time, particularly if the remote pilot is not required to recall such information on a frequent basis. This is a fundamental principle of airman certification, and it applies to all FAA- certificated airmen. For part 61 pilot certificate holders, the flight review, conducted under § 61.56, specifically requires “[a] review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91” in addition to maneuvers necessary to safely exercise the privileges of the certificate. Likewise, the FAA considers a recurrent knowledge test to be an effective means of evaluating a remote pilot’s retention of knowledge necessary to safely operate small unmanned aircraft in the NAS. Because of the reduced risk posed by small UAS, the FAA is not requiring remote pilots to demonstrate a minimum level of flight proficiency to a specific standard or recency of flight experience in order to exercise the privileges of their airman certificate.

Drone Labs suggested extending the time period between recurrent tests to 5 years, and/or making the test available online to ease recertification. Kansas Farm Bureau recommended a 6-year interval between recurrent tests, similar to the interval for renewal of a driver’s license.

The FAA does not agree that the recurrent testing interval should be longer than two years. Unlike the privileges afforded by a driver’s license, which are exercised on a frequent basis by most drivers, many holders of remote pilot certificates may only exercise their privileges occasionally or may not regularly conduct operations that apply all of the concepts tested on the aeronautical knowledge test. For example, a remote pilot in command may spend years never operating outside of Class G airspace, and then may move to a different location that requires him or her to begin conducting small UAS operations in Class D airspace. Based on experience with manned pilots, those persons who exercise the privileges of their certificate on an infrequent basis are likely to retain the knowledge for a shorter period of time than those who exercise the privileges of their certificate on a regular basis.

Further, as unmanned aircraft operations increase in the NAS, the FAA anticipates the possibility of further changes to rules and regulations. By requiring evaluation on a two-year cycle, the FAA is able to ensure that remote pilots are aware of the most recent changes to regulations affecting their operations.

The FAA acknowledges, however, the burden associated with in-person testing every two years. As such, the FAA intends to look at (in the Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Over People rule) alternative methods to further reduce this burden without sacrificing the safety benefits afforded by a two-year recurrent knowledge check.

i. Credit to Holders of Part 61 Pilot Certificates

For the reasons discussed below, this rule will allow part 61 pilot certificate holders (other than the holders of a student pilot certificate) with current flight reviews139 to substitute an online training course for the aeronautical knowledge testing required by this rule.

Airborne Law Enforcement Association and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, suggested requiring only the recurrent knowledge test for part-61-certificated pilots. Numerous commenters also suggested that holders of part 61 airman certificates should be required to take only the recurrent knowledge test, not the initial knowledge test, or should be exempted entirely from knowledge-testing requirements. One commenter suggested that the holders of private, commercial, and ATP certificates who have operated UAS under exemptions be exempted from the initial knowledge test requirement. Another commented that non-military COA pilots should be permitted to take just the recurrent test, since the applicants will usually hold at least a private pilot certificate. One commenter stated that those applicants who hold part 61 pilot certificates should be required only to complete UAS-specific modules as part of the existing FAA Wings program. Another commenter stated that there should be a provision to enable existing small UAS pilots witha certain amount of logged PIC time to fly a small UAS without having to take a knowledge test.

The FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that requiring part-61-certificated pilots who satisfy the flight-review requirements of § 61.56 to take an initial or recurrent knowledge test is unduly burdensome. Through initial certification and subsequent flight reviews, a part-61-certificated airman is required to demonstrate knowledge of many of the topic areas tested on the UAS knowledge test. These areas include: airspace classification and operating requirements, aviation weather sources, radio communication procedures, physiological effects of drugs and alcohol, aeronautical decision-making and judgment, and airport operations. Because a part 61 pilot certificate holder is evaluated on these areas of knowledge in the course of the part 61 certification and flight review process, reevaluating these areas of knowledge on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests conducted under part 107 would be needlessly duplicative.

However, there are UAS-specific areas of knowledge (discussed in section III.F.2.j of this preamble) that a part-61-certificated pilot may not be familiar with. Accordingly, instead of requiring part-61 certificated pilots who are current on their flight reviews to take the initial and recurrent knowledge tests, this rule will provide those pilots with the option to take an online training course focusing on UAS-specific areas of knowledge. Just as there is an initial and recurrent knowledge test, there will also be an initial and recurrent training course available to part 61 pilot certificate holders. Those certificate holders will be able to substitute the initial training course for the initial knowledge test and the recurrent training course for the recurrent knowledge test. To ensure that a certificate holder’s UAS-specific knowledge does not become stale, this rule will include the requirement that a part 61 pilot certificate holder must pass either the recurrent training course or the recurrent knowledge test every 24 months.

The FAA emphasizes that the online training course option in lieu of taking the knowledge test will be available only to those part 61 pilot certificate holders who satisfy the flight review required by § 61.56. This is to ensure that the certificate holder’s knowledge of general aeronautical concepts that are not included on the training course does not become stale. Part 61 pilot certificate holders who do not meet the flight review requirements of § 61.56 will be unable to substitute the online training course for the required aeronautical knowledge test. Thus, under § 107.63(a)(2), a part 61 pilot certificate holder seeking to substitute completion of the initial training course for the initial aeronautical knowledge test will have to present his or her logbook upon application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating to demonstrate that he or she has satisfied this requirement. The applicant will also have to present a certificate of completion showing that he or she has completed the initial online training course.

The FAA also notes that the above discussion does not apply to holders of a part 61 student pilot certificate. A person is not required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test, pass a practical (skills) test, or otherwise demonstrate aeronautical knowledge in order to obtain a student pilot certificate. Further, student pilot certificate holders who have received an endorsement for solo flight under § 61.87(b) are only required to demonstrate limited knowledge associated with conducting a specific solo flight. For these reasons, the option to take an online training course instead of an aeronautical knowledge test will not extend to student pilot certificate holders.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Section 107.64 Temporary certificate. (2018)

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Section 107.64 Temporary certificate.

(a) A temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating is issued for up to 120 calendar days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.

(b) A temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating expires:

(1) On the expiration date shown on the certificate;

(2) Upon receipt of the permanent certificate; or

(3) Upon receipt of a notice that the certificate sought is denied or revoked.

My Commentary on Section 107.64 Temporary certificate.

If you want to obtain a temporary certificate immediately, the Part 61 certificated pilot with a flight review should go to an FAA aviation safety inspector, a designated pilot examiner, or an airmen certification representative who has the ability to receiving the 8710-13 form and ALSO issue a temporary certificate right there.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.64 Temporary certificate.

When the applicant uses this online option, the application will be transmitted electronically from the applicant to the Airman Registry. The only electronic signature that will be reflected on the IACRA application will be the applicant’s. The applicant will then receive a confirmation email once his or her application has completed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting process. The email will provide information that will allow the applicant to log into the IACRA system and print a copy of the temporary certificate.

………………

A CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate. They can process applications for applicants who do not need a temporary certificate. If using IACRA and the applicant is utilizing a CFI as the FAA representative, the applicant can print their own temporary airman certificate after receiving an email from the FAA notifying them that it is available. If using the paper method and the applicant is utilizing a CFI as the FAA representative, the applicant will not be issued a temporary airman certificate. Once the FSDO has signed and approved the application, it will be mailed to the Registry for the issuance of the permanent certificate.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.64 Temporary certificate from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

Several commenters, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Washington Aviation Group, and Event 38 Unmanned Systems, opposed the requirement for small UAS operator applicants to undergo a TSA background check prior to receiving their operator certificate. Many of these commenters pointed out that it is highly unlikely that an individual who poses a threat to national security would seek to obtain an airman certificate and go through the TSA vetting process.

Several commenters argued that pre-screening applicants is extremely burdensome for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and creates a barrier to market entry. Some commenters argued that 49 U.S.C. 46111 does not require the FAA to wait until hearing back from TSA prior to granting the certificate, or that it does not confer the authority to pre-screen applicants for an airmen certificate. One commenter suggested that the knowledge testing centers be able to issue temporary certificates upon passing the knowledge test, which could be revoked if the TSA vetting process indicated that the individual should not be issued a remote pilot certificate.

As discussed previously, 49 U.S.C. 44903(j)(2)(D)(i) is unambiguous and states that the vetting must be completed before the FAA may issue an airman certificate. Given the relatively short time the vetting takes for the overwhelming majority of applicants, it is difficult to identify a burden that is not outweighed by the clear benefit of ensuring that certificate holders do not pose a threat to national or transportation security. Section 44903(j)(2)(D)(i) explicitly states that TSA screening of an individual must take place “before” that individual is certificated by the FAA.

In addition, 49 U.S.C. 44903(j)(2)(D) and 46111 vest the authority for vetting with TSA. Specifically, section 46111(a) states that “[t]he Administrator of Federal Aviation Administration shall issue an order amending, modifying, suspending, or revoking any part of a certificate issued under this title if the Administrator is notified by the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security of the Department of Homeland Security that the holder of the certificate poses, or is suspected of posing, a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety.” (Emphasis added). Thus, under § 46111, the FAA’s role in the vetting process is ministerial; the FAA acts on findings that have been made by the TSA, but it is TSA that makes the actual security determinations. Because the authority for making the pertinent security determination is vested with TSA, the Department does not have jurisdiction to alter the criteria and requirements of that determination in the manner suggested by the commenters.

The FAA acknowledges, however, the commenters’ concern regarding the estimated 6-to-8-week timeframe associated with processing the certificate application. In response, this rule will allow an applicant who already holds a part 61 pilot certificate to obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon FAA receipt of his or her application. The FAA is able to issue a temporary remote pilot certificate to part 61 pilot certificate holders prior to completion of new security vetting because these individuals have already been successfully completed the TSA vetting when they obtained their part 61 pilot certificates.

The FAA will also issue a temporary electronic remote pilot certificate to all other applicants who apply through IACRA upon successful completion of TSA security vetting. The FAA anticipates that, while it may take the FAA 6 to 8 weeks to issue a permanent remote pilot certificate, a temporary remote pilot certificate can be issued in about 10 business days. The temporary remote pilot certificate will allow the certificate holder to exercise all the privileges of the certificate, thus significantly reducing the waiting period prior to being able to operate as a remote pilot in command under part 107.

Just like a temporary pilot certificate issued under part 61, a temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating will be valid for 120 days after issuance. This will provide sufficient time for the FAA to complete its processing of the certificate application and issue the applicant a permanent remote pilot certificate. The temporary certificate will automatically expire once the applicant receives a permanent remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. The temporary certificate will also expire if the FAA discovers an issue with the certificate application and issues the applicant a notice that his or her certificate application is denied or the certificate (if one has already been issued) is revoked.

The FAA defers to TSA on whether current part 61 pilot certificate holders will have to continue to undergo the vetting process in order to receive a non-temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. The FAA also notes that applicants who have passed STAs for other federal programs, received background checks, or hold U.S. passports will still need to satisfy TSA’s STA specific to the statute that requires security vetting prior to issuance of an airmen’s certificate (49 USC 44903). The FAA does not have jurisdiction to accept alternative documentation instead of a TSA security finding because, as discussed earlier, 49 U.S.C. 44903(j)(2)(D) and 46111 vest the pertinent jurisdiction in the TSA. In response to DJI, the FAA notes that a complete TSA vetting process is an integral part of the requirements of this rule because it reduces the risk of a person who poses a security threat obtaining an airman certificate under part 107.

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