Commercial Drone Rules (Part 107)


Drone Delivery – 3 Big Legal Problems (2019)

“So when can I start ordering stuff off Amazon and get it delivered to my front door via drone delivery?”

It would be sweet to order stuff online and get it dropped off quickly.

But are there any problems holding drone delivery up?

I’m going to briefly discuss some of the background to this drone delivery buzz, why privacy won’t be an issue to drone delivery, what really is going on, and then dive into the three major legal problems with Amazon Prime Air becoming a reality for Americans.

Brief Background on the Drone Delivery Craze

Drone delivery has been all over the news with Amazon being the first to announce the projected use of drones to make deliveries. Others have followed the trend and announced deliveries such as the drone burrito delivery, the drone pizza delivery, etc.

In 2015, Dave Vos, the former head of Google’s Project Wing, said to an audience, “Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017[.]”  Fedex, UPS, DHL, Walmart, and everyone including your grandma’s dog has announced they are interested in drone delivery. Then, as if we hadn’t enough drone delivery buzz, Amazon published on December 14, 2016 a video showing their first customer delivery using a drone.

Drone delivery is really a small portion of the drone market, but thanks to Amazon, it is the “face” of the commercial drone industry. This has gone a long way to clean up a lot of the public stigma about the drone industry. On the topic of drones, people tend to think of Amazon delivery, not predator drones. Kudos to you Amazon for changing that.

The idea of drone deliveries, in general, is not only just delivering potato chips but also for more legitimate humanitarian purposes. A great example of this is the company Matternet, which partnered with UNICEF to do drone delivery in Malawi with the end goal of developing low-cost delivery of blood samples from children to be tested so medical drugs can be given to them when needed and in time. John Hopkins University has been doing blood drone delivery tests and published their findings in a medical journal.  Drones – they can save money, time, and lives.

These drone delivery announcements have worked so well that when I tell people I’m a drone lawyer, I almost always get asked about when drone delivery will become a possibility. My answer is not anytime soon.

………and it isn’t because of one of the most frequently raised issues.

Privacy –Frequently Raised, but not a Drone Delivery Legal Barrier.

I don’t think privacy issues are going to be a problem because of 3 reasons:

(1) In the terms of service that no one will read, the language will be used to the effect that says it’s cool with the property owner to have the drone descend over their house and drop off the package.

(2) Missy Cummings, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, provided one potential solution of drone delivery companies and other companies partnering for delivery points. “Perhaps Starbucks could be your intermediary point.”

(3) Amazon’s patent on drone docking stations (attached to light poles or cell towers) won’t have property/privacy issues because that will all be taken care of in a contract agreement with the cell tower and power companies.

Most Drone Delivery News is of Operations Either Overseas or in Rural Areas

Most of what you have seen in the news is either in other countries, with different laws, or in rural areas of the U.S.

Most of the drone delivery operations were completed in rural/non-urban areas.

Amazon’s latest marketing efforts show a drone delivery to a person who happened to be living next door (~ 765 yards) to Amazon’s Cambridge, England facility. That’s great if you live near a test site –  in another country. The drone deliveries overseas ….really don’t matter to us in the U.S. because we have different laws here.

Up until August 29, 2016,  we only had the Section 333 exemption process (now the 44807 process), the public certificate of waiver or authorization (which is statutorily prohibits commercial operations), or the airworthiness certificate process coupled with a certificate of waiver or authorization – all three are difficult to operate under in reality and only two allow commercial operations. Thankfully, Part 107 went into effect on August 29, 2016 and is far less restrictive than the previous three options. This is why you might have noticed that after August 29th, the drone delivery announcements and the accompanying photos in the U.S. have started to look closer to what we envision a drone delivery should look like.

Even though things have become better because we have Part 107 and the new update to  Section 44807, areas of the law are still going to need to be changed before we see drone delivery at large scale.

3 Big Legal Problems With Drone Delivery Becoming a Reality for Americans.

Problem 1: FAA’s Part 107 Drone Regulations

These are the newly-created drone regulations that went into effect on August 29, 2016.

Part 107 does NOT allow air carrier operations. “‘[A]ir carrier’ means a citizen of the United States undertaking by any means, directly or indirectly, to provide air transportation.”[1] “‘[A]ir transportation’ means foreign air transportation, interstate air transportation, or the transportation of mail by aircraft.”[2]  In other words, Fedex, UPS, DHL, USPS, or anyone crossing state or national borders cannot operate under Part 107.

Bummer.

One interesting point is that Matternet did obtain approval to fly package delivery under Part 107. Why? They were flying for one hospital company in one area and its was extremely limited. The Department of Transportation basically determined this was not an air carrier since it was so limited.

Here is where things start to get limiting under Part 107 for drone delivery:

Following up on the last point, where are the most customers?

Near cities.

What are near cities? Airports….everywhere.

Let’s just pull some data from Arizona’s Amazon fulfillment distribution centers. Taxjar’s blog listed five address in Arizona (but it really is only four buildings).

  • #PHX3 – 6835 W. Buckeye Rd. Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX5 – 16920 W. Commerce Dr. Goodyear, AZ, 85338 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX6 – 4750 W. Mohave St. Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX7 – 800 N. 75th Ave Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County

I took these addresses and plugged them into the sectional map (green stars with green arrows) which shows us all the airspace in the Phoenix area. Calm down. I made it easy for you. I used to say to my flight students when I was flight instructing that these maps were like a form of job security because they are confusing to read. I marked out the areas where the drones cannot fly under Part 107 in red, unless they have an authorization or waiver.

drone-delivery-amazon-fullfilment-center-arizona

Two of the fulfillment centers are in controlled airspace and would require an authorization or waiver to just take off.

In short, under Part 107, Amazon has a host of regulatory problems they need to conquer just with the FAA to have cost-saving operations, but Part 107 isn’t the only way to make a drone operation legal. There is also the Section 44807 exemption process.

Problem 2: FAA’s Section 44807 Exemption for Commercial Drone Operations

It’s a lengthy process and requires alot of paperwork.

On top of that, 44807 is only for the aircraft. You’ll still need an exemption from parts of Part 135 to carry packages for other people.  If you think the exemption process is difficult, the Part 135 air carrier certification process can be brutal.

Thankfully, Google’s Wing Aviation, LLC managed to obtain the exemption and Part 135 operating certificate.  But here is the thing, the Part 135 operating certificate was for a single pilot. Yes, this was the easiest of the Part 135 certifications to obtain but this means in the near term you won’t have drones flying all over the place because its currently just one guy. …..and he works for Google.

UPS also obtained an exemption for package delivery and also obtained a Part 135 operating certificate. UPS is what I would consider the first real operational approval because of the 4 types of Part 135 certificates, UPS received a standard operating certificate “with no limits on the size or scope of operations. However, the operator must be granted authorization for each type of operation they want to conduct.”

Problem 3: States, Counties, Cities, & Towns All Regulating Drones – Death by a Thousand Papercuts

I see the people who want drone delivery falling into three categories: (1) those that value immediately possessing the item more than paying a high price, (2) those that don’t have any other choice (there is no next best alternative or the alternative is outside of their purchasing power), or (3) those that value the item now but not more than a high price.

A. Those that Value Immediately Possessing the Item More than Paying a High Price (Early Adopters)

There are some areas that are not price sensitive such as:

(1) Those that need delicate, limited, expensive, rare types of medicine immediately because the alternative is injury or death.

(2) Critical pieces of an operation. For example, a large piece of machinery broke down and there are many people (that the company is paying) just sitting around waiting for replacement parts. How much is it per hour to have the machinery NOT running?

(3) The rich guy down by the remote lake wants an anniversary gift, that he forgot to buy, for his wife right now. Maybe this should be in the (1) category because it’s kind of life or death?

Drones provide a great solution for the above categories because these people are interested more in decreased time than decreased costs.

B. Those That do not Have any Other Choice (There is no Next Best Alternative or it is Outside of Their Purchasing Power)

In other situations, the drone might be the only feasible solution due to weather, disaster, lack of infrastructure, etc. (Think hurricane relief or Alaska bush pilots flying supplies into remote villages). If you are delivering to remote areas, you look at things differently. Flexport’s article discussing Matternet’s drone operations in Lesotho explained:

As Raptopoulos of Matternet points out, Google and Amazon’s plans ignore drones’ best feature: they can go where there are no roads.

“One billion people in the world today do not have access to all-season roads,” Raptopoulos told a TED audience in 2013. “We cannot get medicine to them reliably, they cannot get critical supplies, and they cannot get their goods to market in order to create a sustainable income.”

For the Matternet team, the most interesting question was not the cost per delivery. They wanted to compare the cost of the drone network to the cost of building the roads Lesotho so badly lacks.”

These two above categories are elastic with price, but the third category, will be affected by the states, counties, cities, or towns creating drone law.  The first two categories might be the early adopters, but they will be the small minority of drone deliveries. Most people are near a road where a delivery truck can get to them and they most likely are not in a life or death situation.

C. Those That Value the Item Now but not More Than a High Price.

Amazon’s business model is that the drones will provide a lower cost of delivery.

Darryl Jenkins, who worked on the economic study outlook for the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said in his presentation,“Amazon will be able to push the per unit cost of delivery to at least $1.00 per package causing all other competitors to either adopt or die.” This is because of the economies of scale. But here is the problem, with a greater number of drones and drones operating across the U.S., more and more non-federal drone laws will need to be complied with.

Most people have four layers of government applying to them. These governments might have created drone laws. For example, where I used to live on Palm Beach Island, I had four layers of drone laws that applied to me: the Federal Aviation Regulations, the State of Florida’s Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,[9] Palm Beach County’s ordinance prohibiting model airplane flights in county parks, and Palm Beach Island’s drone ordinance.

It isn’t super hard to track the state drone laws from 50 states and the federal government, but we don’t know everything going on with all the counties, cities, villages, boroughs, etc.

It’s not a patchwork quilt of drone laws, it’s worse. It’s like a huge puzzle, and you have only a couple hundred pieces so you have to go on a scavenger hunt to find the remaining pieces, but you don’t know if you need 1,000 pieces or maybe 10,000 more and the number of pieces just keeps growing.

Also, local governments use all sorts of different terms to describe the same thing, such as unmanned aircraft, drone, model aircraft, etc. (they like to pretend they are the FAA) which further increases the times it takes to search.

These unknown areas are going to have to be checked into which means there is a need for a drone regulatory compliance department in Amazon which means $$$$. If the cost of compliance goes up, Amazon’s business model starts to make less and less sense compared to what they are already doing now.

Another aspect of these non-federal drone laws is that some of these laws are motivated not by the desire to decrease public risk, but to increase revenue. As a greater number of the non-federal regulators start catching on, Amazon and all the other companies interested in drone delivery start looking like revenue generators for local governments. Even if the local governments aren’t greedy, their focus on safety and protecting their citizens generally results in some type of “safety” requirement that needs to be proven before they issue a permit/license which further drives up operating costs for the companies.

We all understand the Amazon most likely won’t save any money at first on drone delivery, but the with more and more drone laws getting created, lobbying, compliance, monitoring, insurance, permitting, etc. will all start eating further into the cost savings which means costs savings won’t be realized for years and years down the line. At a certain point, one or two guys operating out of big delivery van starts to look like a good idea again.

Because of these local drone ordinances & state laws, drone delivery suffers death by a 1000 regulatory papercuts.

Conclusion:

Many have written on this topic because they see the technology taking off. They see the progress in the technology that many have made and assume that drone delivery will be allowed soon. They get the “West Coast” mindset where they think if enough money and technology are thrown at the problem, it will be fixed regardless of the law. Additionally, most writing on or marketing drone delivery do not understand all the legal issues.

Aviation is an “East Coast” industry where the laws out of D.C. will heavily influence the business. Aviation is an extremely regulated environment. The faster the companies operating in this area realize that fact, the better off they will be so that they can actually do these types of operations.

Amazon still has a long way to go before drone delivery can be experienced in real life by the American public, not just as a short clip on the internet.

Interested in learning more about Part 107?

 

[1] 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(2)

[2] Id. at (a)(5).

[3] 14 CFR § 107.31.

[4] 14 CFR § 107.19.

[5] 14 CFR § 107.35.

[6] 14 CFR § 107.25.

[7] 14 CFR § 107.39

[8] 14 CFR § 107.41.

[9] F.S.S. § 934.50.


Ultimate Guide to FAA’s Part 107 (14 CFR Part 107)

The FAA released Part 107 on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Part 107 provides for individuals to obtain their “Remote Pilot Certificate” which is what you need if you want to fly your drone commercially.

Part 107 will provide a certificate as well as operating rules for drone operators who do not fall into recreational drone operations. The two main groups that will benefit will be the commercial drone operators and public sector operators.

A large majority of the drone operators will fall into Part 107 which will be line of sight, under 55 pounds, daylight, less than 100 MPH, and below 400ft; however, this is not a complete fix for everyone. Keep reading below to see what will not be covered by 107. Keep in mind that Part 107 is not the only regulation that could apply to your flight. I created an ultimate guide to U.S. Drone Regulations Guide here which talks about other drone regulations. 

Table of Contents

I. Summary of the Major Provisions of Part 107

1. General:

Part 107 does not apply to:

  • Model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified by 49 U.S.C. § 44809.
  • Public aircraft
  • Section 44807 exempted aircraft operating under regulations.
  • Air carrier operations.

2. Operational Limitations:

  • At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
  • Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • Must yield right of way to other aircraft.
  • May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
  • First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
  • Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
  • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.
  • Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
  • Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.
  • No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
  • No operations from a moving aircraft.
  • No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
  • No careless or reckless operations.
  • No carriage of hazardous materials.
  • Requires preflight inspection by the remote pilot in command.
  • A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
  • Foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft are allowed to operate under part 107 if they satisfy the requirements of part 375.
  • External load operations are allowed if the object being carried by the unmanned aircraft is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.
  • Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed provided that-
    • The aircraft, including its attached systems, payload and cargo weigh less than 55 pounds total;
    • The flight is conducted within visual line of sight and not from a moving vehicle or aircraft; and
    • The flight occurs wholly within the bounds of a State and does not involve transport between (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.
  • Most of the restrictions discussed above are waivable if the applicant demonstrates that his or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.

3. Remote Pilot in Command Certification and Responsibilities

  • Establishes a remote pilot in command position.
  • A person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).
  • To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:
    • o Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either:
      • Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or
      • Hold a part 61 pilot certificate other than student pilot, complete a flight review within the previous 24 months, and complete a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA.
    • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
    • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Part 61 pilot certificate holders may obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon submission of their application for a permanent certificate. Other applicants will obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate upon successful completion of TSA security vetting. The FAA anticipates that it will be able to issue a temporary remote pilot certificate within 10 business days after receiving a completed remote pilot certificate application.
  • Until international standards are developed, foreign-certificated UAS pilots will be required to obtain an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

A remote pilot in command must:

  • Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the rule.
  • Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.
  • Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation.
  • Ensure that the small unmanned aircraft complies with the existing registration requirements specified in § 91.203(a)(2).
  • A remote pilot in command may deviate from the requirements of this rule in response to an in-flight emergency.

4. Aircraft Requirements

  • FAA airworthiness certification is not required. However, the remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight check of the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.

II. Actual Text of Part 107 with Guidance Material

drone-regulation-page-outline

I have created pages for almost all of the regulations below. The pages were designed to help people study the regulations.  Each page has the (1) actual text of the law, (2) my commentary on the law and maybe supporting links, (3) relevant portions of the FAA’s advisory circular on the particular regulation, and (4) the FAA’s discussion on the topic or particular regulation from the preambles of final rule.

PART 107

Subpart A—General

§ 107.1 Applicability.
§ 107.3 Definitions.
§ 107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration.
§ 107.7 Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.
§ 107.9 Accident reporting.

Subpart B—Operating Rules

§ 107.11 Applicability.
§ 107.12 Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
§ 107.13 Registration.
§ 107.15 Condition for safe operation.
§ 107.17 Medical condition.
§ 107.19 Remote pilot in command.
§ 107.21 In-flight emergency.
§ 107.23 Hazardous operation.
§ 107.25 Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft.
§ 107.27 Alcohol or drugs.
§ 107.29 Daylight operation.
§ 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation.
§ 107.33 Visual observer.
§ 107.35 Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft.
§ 107.36 Carriage of hazardous material.
§ 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.
§ 107.39 Operation over human beings.
§ 107.41 Operation in certain airspace.
§ 107.43 Operation in the vicinity of airports.
§ 107.45 Operation in prohibited or restricted areas.
§ 107.47 Flight restrictions in the proximity of certain areas designated by notice to airmen.
§ 107.49 Preflight familiarization, inspection, and actions for aircraft operation.
§ 107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

Subpart C—Remote Pilot Certification

§107.53 Applicability.
§ 107.57 Offenses involving alcohol or drugs.
§ 107.59 Refusal to submit to an alcohol test or to furnish test results.
§ 107.61 Eligibility.
§ 107.63 Issuance of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
§ 107.64 Temporary certificate.
§ 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.
§ 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.
§ 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.
§ 107.71 Retesting after failure.
§ 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge tests.
§ 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.
§ 107.77 Change of name or address.
§ 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.

Subpart D—Waivers

§ 107.200 Waiver policy and requirements.
§ 107.205 List of regulations subject to waiver.

III. Important Documents or Websites:

IV. Important Articles on Part 107:

V. NON – PART 107 OPERATIONS

For any of the operations listed below, a drone operator could NOT fly purely under the FAA’s Part 107 operating rules but would need to be authorized via a waiver, Public COA, a special Section 44807 Exemption (formerly called a Section 333 exemption), or a SAC/COA combo.  Contact me if you are interested in any of these types of operations.

  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight
    • Power line inspections
    • Search and rescue
  • Night Operations
    • SAR at night
    • Firefighting at night
    • Inspections using thermal equipment in hot environments and night is the best time to use the equipment.
    • Cinematography for TV/movie night scenes
    • Inspections on critical time/sensitive material that require 24/7 monitoring (example: turbidity monitoring for dredging operations)
    • Sports at night.
  • 55 Pounds and Heavier
    • Package delivery
    • Crop dusting
    • Firefighting retardant delivery
    • High-end LIDAR to monitor crops such as lumber. The LIDAR is used to detect the diameter of the wood so the loggers know which forest to harvest first.
    • Cinematography (Dual Red Epics for 3-D filming or full Arri Alexa with lens and a large stack of batteries for extra flight time.)
  • Higher than 400ft and 400ft away from the object.
  • 100 MPH and Faster
    • Survey large areas fast
    • Fast package/medical delivery
  • Operation Over Persons
    • Concerts
    • Live news events
    • Sports
  • Operations from a Moving Vehicle in non-sparsely populated areas.

VI. Summary of Important Changes From Proposed Part 107 to the Final Rule

Anything that is in BOLD and UNDERLINED is different. Anything in [BRACKETS] means I inserted it because there were a few typos that needed clarifying. Small little differences were NOT noted so as to improve readability.

PART 107 NPRM

FINAL PART 107

“Pilots of a small UAS would be considered ‘operators’”Called Remote Pilots
“Be at least 17 years old.”“Be at least 16 years old.”
“Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.”“Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center (or pass this online course, for Part 61 certificate holders).
“Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.”“Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days if the sUAS operation results in serious injury or property.”
“Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.”“Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level.”

The change from 500ft to 400ft makes sense in that there is a buffer zone now between drones and fixed-wing manned aircraft. See 14 C.F.R. 91.119 which places fixed-wing aircraft at a minimum of 500ft in non-congested areas. Remember that altimeters for manned aircraft can be incorrect sometimes, especially when going from high pressure to low pressure or high temperature to low temperate. (High to low, look out below.)


Don’t Drink and Drone – FAA Regulations on Drones & Alcohol

drink-drone-faa-alcohol-regulationsI thought I should write an article to educate individuals on one of the lesser known regulations regarding flying drones and drinking. This article will address first the commercial drone operators and then the recreational drone or model aircraft operators.

The FAA is really focused on preventing people from droning under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.

Commercial Drone Operators Using Alcohol or Drugs

Commercial drone operators are either operating under Part 107 or under a Section 44807 exemption (formerly called a Section 333 exemption).

Part 107 

14 CFR 107.27 says,

“A person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system or acting as a remote pilot in command or visual observer must comply with the provisions of §§91.17 and 91.19 of this chapter.”  Part 107 incorporates Part 91 by reference. Part 107 does this also with the temporary flight restriction provisions.

Let’s now look at the other way commercial drone operators can legally fly.

Section 44807 Exemptions

Remember that when operating under a Section 44807 exemption, you are really operating under all of the other Parts of the federal aviation regulations besides Part 107. If you comb through them all, you’ll find the same two regulations that were referenced by Part 107 – 91.17 and 91.19.

Let’s dive into what 91.17  and 91.19 says.

14 CFR Sec. 91.17 says,

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft—

(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;

(2) While under the influence of alcohol;

(3) While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or

(4) While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Alcohol concentration means grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

. . . . 

(c) A crewmember shall do the following:

(1) On request of a law enforcement officer, submit to a test to indicate the alcohol concentration in the blood or breath, when—

(i) The law enforcement officer is authorized under State or local law to conduct the test or to have the test conducted; and

(ii) The law enforcement officer is requesting submission to the test to investigate a suspected violation of State or local law governing the same or substantially similar conduct prohibited by paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section.

(2) Whenever the FAA has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section, on request of the FAA, that person must furnish to the FAA the results, or authorize any clinic, hospital, or doctor, or other person to release to the FAA, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates an alcohol concentration in the blood or breath specimen.

(d) Whenever the Administrator has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(3) of this section, that person shall, upon request by the Administrator, furnish the Administrator, or authorize any clinic, hospital, doctor, or other person to release to the Administrator, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates the presence of any drugs in the body.

(e) Any test information obtained by the Administrator under paragraph (c) or (d) of this section may be evaluated in determining a person’s qualifications for any airman certificate or possible violations of this chapter and may be used as evidence in any legal proceeding under section 602, 609, or 901 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958.

Can You Give Me Some Real World Scenarios How People Could Violate the Regulation?

Here are some real world scenarios on how you can violate section 91.17:

  • (1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
    • You go to a party, have one beer, and then go fly your drone 30 minutes later.
    • You stayed up partying hard past midnight (2am was your last drink time). You get up early around 7am to shoot some footage.
  • (2) While under the influence of alcohol;
    • You got hammered last night and passed out. You get up early and still feel buzzed.
  • (3) While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or
    • You are on some powerful medication to treat some type of disease or pain. This medication is affecting your faculties in ANY way.
  • (4) While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Alcohol concentration means grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
    • You played a drinking game with your buddies using whiskey, but that was over 8 hours ago. You are a seasoned drinking vet and have developed a high tolerance for alcohol. (You can hold your liquor). You might still be above .04 because your alcohol tolerance is so high.

Recreational Drone or Model Aircraft Operators

Part 101 does not specifically prohibit drinking in droning,  but…… it does say

§ 101.43 Endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.

“No person may operate model aircraft so as to endanger the safety of the national airspace system.”

Depending on which FAA inspector you run into and the facts of the situation, drunk droning could be considered to be endangering the national airspace.

Furthermore, Part 101 is applicable to a model aircraft “that meets all of the following conditions” of Part 101 such as the requirement to operate the “aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines[.]” The Academy of Model Aeronautics Safety Code does NOT allow a person to operate a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. RCAPA safety guidelines also don’t allow drinking and droning. I do not know of any community based organization that allows this.

Why do I mention this?

This is a very important point. If you are NOT flying according to Part 101, because you are violating the safety codes by drinking and droning, you MUST comply with Part 107. You are going to have to comply with one or the other.

Remember that the AMA, RCAPA, etc., those community based organizations, are NOT the law, but the law says you need to be operating in accordance with a community based organization’s safety guidelines!

This could open you up to many additional violations you could be charged with such as flying your aircraft without a remote pilot certificate, flying in airspace without an authorization, flying over people, etc.

Don’t drink and drone and don’t let your friends drink and drone.


Section 107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

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Section 107.51 is this section that looks like the FAA just gathered what was left and threw it all into. It deals with speed, altitude, visibility, and cloud distances. For many, this regulation is not a problem but it does get problematic when you need to obtain a waiver from this section. If you check the waiver directory that FAA has published, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of 107.51 waivers that have been issued.

Section 107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

Here is the actual text of the regulation:

A remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a small unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The ground speed of the small unmanned aircraft may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

(b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:

(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.

(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 statute miles. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

(d) The minimum distance of the small unmanned aircraft from clouds must be no less than:

(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and

(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.

Rarely will anyone get over 100 MPH so that is not really an issue. The 400ft within a structure also seems to be rarely an issue. What causes the most problems is the 3 statute miles of visiblity and the cloud clearance requirements.

Why?

Fog, smoke, and smog.

Fog is basically just very low clouds which also have a tendency of making things very hard to see.  Smoke and smog can also drop the visibility done below 3 statute miles.

FAA’s Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

Operating Limitations for Small UA. The small UA must be operated in accordance with the following limitations:

• Cannot be flown faster than a groundspeed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour);
• Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL), unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit;
• Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the CS, may not be less than 3 statute miles (sm); and
• Minimum distance from clouds being no less than 500 feet below a cloud and no less than 2000 feet horizontally from the cloud.

Note: These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot’s ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take the appropriate actions to maintain safety.

5.10.1 Determining Groundspeed. There are many different types of sUAS and different ways to determine groundspeed. Therefore, this guidance will only touch on some of the possible ways for the remote PIC to ensure that the small UA does not exceed a groundspeed of 87 knots during flight operations. Some of the possible ways to ensure that 87 knots is not exceeded are as follows:

• Installing a Global Positioning System (GPS) device on the small UA that reports groundspeed information to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot takes into account the wind direction and speed and calculates the small UA airspeed for a given direction of flight, or
• Timing the groundspeed of the small UA when it is flown between two or more fixed points, taking into account wind speed and direction between each point, then noting the power settings of the small UA to operate at or less than 87 knots groundspeed, or
• Using the small UA’s manufacturer design limitations (e.g., installed groundspeed limiters).

5.10.2 Determining Altitude. In order to comply with the maximum altitude requirements of part 107, as with determining groundspeed, there are multiple ways to determine a small UA’s altitude above the ground or structure. Some possible ways for a remote pilot to determine altitude are as follows:

• Installing a calibrated altitude reporting device on the small UA that reports the small UA altitude above mean sea level (MSL) to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot subtracts the MSL elevation of the CS from the small UA reported MSL altitude to determine the small UA AGL altitude above the terrain or structure;
• Installing a GPS device on the small UA that also has the capability of reporting MSL altitude to the remote pilot;
• With the small UA on the ground, have the remote pilot and VO pace off 400 feet from the small UA to get a visual perspective of the small UA at that distance, wherein the remote pilot and VO maintain that visual perspective or closer while the small UA is in flight; or
• Using the known height of local rising terrain and/or structures as a reference.

5.10.3 Visibility and Distance from Clouds. Once the remote PIC and VO have been able to reliably establish the small UA AGL altitude, it is incumbent on the remote PIC to determine that visibility from the CS is at least 3 sm and that the small UA is kept at least 500 feet below a cloud and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud. One of the ways to ensure adherence to the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements is to obtain local aviation weather reports that include current and forecast weather conditions. If there is more than one local aviation reporting station near the operating area, the remote PIC should choose the closest one that is also the most representative of the terrain surrounding the operating area. If local aviation weather reports are not available, then the remote PIC may not operate the small UA if he or she is not able to determine the required visibility and cloud clearances by other reliable means. It is imperative that the UA not be operated above any cloud, and that there are no obstructions to visibility, such as smoke or a cloud, between the UA and the remote PIC.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

The NPRM also proposed additional visibility and cloud-clearance requirements to ensure that the person maintaining visual line of sight has sufficient visibility to see and avoid other aircraft. Specifically, the NPRM proposed a minimum flight visibility of at least 3 statute miles from the location of the ground control station. The NPRM also proposed that the small unmanned aircraft must maintain a minimum distance from clouds of no less than: (1) 500 feet below the cloud; and (2) 2,000 feet horizontally away from the cloud. This rule will finalize these minimum-flight-visibility and cloud-clearance requirements as proposed in the NPRM but will make those requirements waivable.

Commenters including NAAA, ALPA, and Commonwealth Edison Company supported the proposed minimum flight visibility and distance-from-clouds requirements. Commonwealth Edison asserted that the proposed visibility requirements, in combination with the other proposed operational requirements, would “safeguard safety while recognizing reasonable commercial interests in such a rapidly evolving technological environment.” NAAA stated that the proposed requirements are consistent with the VFR visibility requirements under 14 CFR 91.155 and 91.115. The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association strongly agreed that “weather minimums be at least basic VFR.” ALPA also agreed that all operations must take place in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) with the identified cloud clearances. ALPA further recommended that it be made clear that the 3-mile visibility requirement for VMC does not mean that the visual-line-of-sight required elsewhere in the proposed regulation can necessarily be maintained at 3 miles.

Modovolate Aviation, NAMIC, the Property Drone Consortium, and a few individuals generally opposed the imposition of minimum flight visibility and distance from-cloud requirements. The commenters asserted that such requirements are unnecessary, given the visual-line-of sight requirement of § 107.31. Modovolate stated that it is unlikely that an operator can keep a small UAS in sight at a distance of 3 miles, so a separate weather-visibility requirement is redundant. Modovolate also stated that a small UAS operator cannot maintain visual contact with his small UAS if it is flown in a cloud, but he would be able to fly his small UAS closer than 500 or 1,000 feet to a well-defined cloud without risk.

The Professional Society of Drone Journalists (PSDJ), and Edison Electric Institute, individually and jointly with NRECA and APPA, recommended the removal of the cloud distance requirements altogether. PSDJ asserted that the proposed cloud distance requirements would render many types of weather coverage and research projects impossible and would also make it impossible for small UAS to replace high-risk manned flights, “such as inspecting tower, bridges, or other structures,” as contemplated by the NPRM. The Travelers Companies, Inc. recommended the removal of the requirement that small UAS maintain a distance of no less than 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud, claiming it is not relevant or workable for pilots flying small UAS from the ground. Aerial Services added that the safety concerns associated with cloud clearance will be alleviated with automation, the maximum altitude restriction, and the restriction on the use of small UAS in the vicinity of airports.

Several other commenters generally supported the imposition of minimum flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements, but said the proposed minimum requirements should be reduced. Commenters including State Farm, AUVSI, the Unmanned Safety Institute, and DJI, argued that the minimum flight visibility and cloud distance should be reduced to 1 statute mile and changed to “remain clear of clouds.” AUVSI asserted that this reduced requirement will reflect the small size, low speeds, and additional operating limitations of small UAS.

EEI said the proposed regulation is too restrictive, especially in areas prone to low cloud cover. The commenter argued that, as long as the operator maintains visual line of sight with the small UAS, the aircraft should be permitted to navigate up to 500 feet, regardless of the elevation of the clouds above 500 feet. In a joint comment, EEI, NRECA, and APPA noted that under the proposed visibility rules, for every foot cloud cover dips below 1,000 feet, the small UAS dips a foot below 500 feet, so that cloud cover at 500 feet would ground all small UAS operations. The commenters suggested that operations in Class G airspace should be allowed up to 500 feet AGL, or the height of cloud cover, whichever is lower. Exelon Corporation further suggested the rule include permission to
operate on the transmission and distribution rights-of-way at altitudes not to exceed the tops of the structures plus 50 feet without weather visibility restrictions. The News Media Coalition suggested eliminating the flight-visibility and cloud-clearance requirements for UAS operated within the parameters in the blanket COA for section 333 exemptions. The specific parameters suggested by the commenter consisted of flight at or below 200 feet AGL and at least (a) 5 nautical miles from an airport having an operational control tower; (b) 3 nautical miles from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; (c) 2 nautical miles from

As discussed earlier, under this rule, the remote pilot in command will be responsible for observing the operating environment for other aircraft and, if necessary, maneuvering the small unmanned aircraft to avoid a collision with other aircraft. However, there is a significant speed difference between a manned aircraft and a small unmanned aircraft. Under part 91, a manned aircraft flying at low altitude could travel at speeds up to 230 to 288 miles per hour (mph).86 On the other hand, a small unmanned aircraft operating under this rule will have a maximum speed of 100 mph and many small unmanned aircraft will likely have a far lower maximum speed.

Because of this difference in maximum speed, the remote pilot in command will need time to respond to an approaching manned aircraft. A minimum flight visibility requirement of 3 statute miles is necessary to ensure that the remote pilot in command can see far enough away to detect a manned aircraft near the area of operation in time to avoid a collision with that aircraft. Additionally, cloud clearance provisions that require the small unmanned aircraft to maintain a distance of at least 500 feet below the cloud and 2,000 feet horizontally away from cloud are necessary to reduce the possibility of having a manned aircraft exit the clouds on an unalterable collision course with the significantly slower small unmanned aircraft. Accordingly, this rule will retain the proposed minimum-flight visibility requirement of 3 statute miles and minimum cloud-distance requirements of 500 feet below the cloud and 2,000 feet horizontally away from the cloud.

In response to ALPA’s concern, the FAA clarifies that the minimum-flight visibility and visual-line-of-sight requirements of this rule are separate requirements that must both be satisfied. The visual-line-of-sight requirement of § 107.31 is intended to ensure that the person maintaining visual line of sight can see the small unmanned aircraft and the immediately surrounding airspace. It is unlikely that a person will be able to maintain visual line of sight of a small unmanned aircraft in compliance with § 107.31 if that aircraft is 3 miles away from him or her. Conversely, the 3-mile visibility requirement
of § 107.51 is intended simply to ensure that the person at the control station is able to see relatively larger manned aircraft that may rapidly be approaching the area of operation. Southern Company suggested that small UAS operations should mirror the VFR weather minimums for manned-helicopter flight and that the Special VFR minimums under 14 CFR 91.157 should also apply to small UAS operations to the extent available for helicopters. The commenter suggested that small UAS operations would satisfy the requirements for Special VFR flight, because only ATC authorization is necessary before Special VFR flight and all small UAS must receive an ATC clearance when operating in controlled airspace. The commenter also asserted that the use of helicopter minimums is appropriate in this rule because, like helicopters, a small UAS is highly maneuverable and easier to land than fixed-wing aircraft. The Small UAV Coalition similarly suggested that the FAA adopt the helicopter cloud-clearance test for small UAS.

The FAA acknowledges that the part 107 visibility requirements for small UAS operations in Class G airspace will be more stringent than the requirements of part 91. Part 91 allows aircraft operating in Class G airspace to operate with 1 statute mile visibility and simply requires the aircraft to keep clear of clouds. However, as numerous commenters pointed out, small UAS operating under this rule may, as a result of their size, be difficult to see for manned-aircraft pilots. Additionally, unlike manned aircraft, small unmanned aircraft will not be required to carry equipage, such as TCAS and ADS-B, that aids in collision avoidance. Because of the additional challenges with collision avoidance raised by small UAS operating under part 107, a more stringent visibility requirement is necessary than the one imposed by part 91 on manned-aircraft operations in Class G airspace.

Vail Resorts asked the FAA to reduce or eliminate cloud clearance requirements in certain terrain, or with certain mitigation in place (e.g., a lighting system on the small UAS). The commenter stated that the minimum-flight-visibility and distance-from-cloud requirements are unnecessarily restrictive in a high alpine environment where the potential for interaction with manned aircraft is incredibly remote, and can be mitigated by other limitations. Venture Partners asserted that its products will contain onboard technology and capabilities that will allow UAS to operate in adverse weather conditions.

The FAA agrees that there could be operations in areas where the likelihood of interaction with manned aircraft is reduced or in which the risk of collision with a manned aircraft is mitigated by other means (such as technological equipage). Accordingly, the FAA has made the visibility and cloud-clearance requirements of part 107 waivable and will consider individual operating environments and other mitigations as part of its review of a waiver request. The FAA plans to use data acquired as part of the waiver process to inform future agency actions that will further integrate UAS into the NAS.

The Airborne Law Enforcement Association requested an exception from the 3- mile minimum flight visibility requirement for public safety operations, saying that, with the visual-line-of-sight restriction, “there are many opportunities to safely utilize UAS technology to the benefit of public safety operations.” The Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers recommended a disaster-response exemption from the 3- mile flight visibility requirement, asserting that UAS flights in conditions with less than 3 miles of visibility could be integral in protecting human life and natural research welfare in the event of a man-made or natural disaster.

As discussed earlier, this rule will not apply to public aircraft operations unless the operator chooses to conduct the operation as a civil aircraft. Thus, public aircraft operations, such as public safety operations conducted by law enforcement agencies, will not be subject to part 107. With regard to the other specific types of operations mentioned in the comments, as discussed previously, the minimum-flight-visibility and cloud clearance requirements of this rule will be waivable. Thus, operations conducted for salutary purposes, such as the ones mentioned by the commenters, could be authorized through the waiver process if the remote pilot establishes that the operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission, Airports Council International-North America, the American Association of Airport Executives, and Exelon Corporation recommended that the requirement for 3 miles of visibility be from the location of the small unmanned aircraft and not from the location of the ground control station. The Metropolitan Airports Commission stated that the 3-mile visibility requirement is based on a manned aircraft pilot’s vantage point positioned inside the aircraft, which provides a 3- mile observation radius around the aircraft to see and avoid potential hazards. Airports Council International-North America claimed that a 3-mile visibility requirement from the unmanned aircraft instead of the ground control station will prevent cases where the UAS operator operates an aircraft at the limit of the operator’s line of sight. Lloyd’s Market Association and the International Underwriting Association said the 3-mile minimum flight visibility requirement may be difficult to administer and police, and wondered if maximum wind speeds have been taken into account.

This rule will retain the requirement that the minimum visibility must be measured from the control station. The reason for this requirement is to allow the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS to see other aircraft that could be entering the area of operation. The person manipulating the small UAS flight controls will be located at the control station (since the control station is the interface used to control the flight), and thus the minimum-visibility requirement must be measured from the control station. With regard to the comment arguing that the 3-mile minimum flight visibility requirement may be difficult to administer and police, the remote pilot in command must, among other things, ensure that the small UAS operation complies with part 107.

This rule will not impose prescriptive requirements on maximum permissible wind speed because there is a wide range of small UAS that could be operated under part 107. These UAS will have varying ability to respond to wind and a prescriptive regulatory requirement would be more stringent than necessary on certain small UAS while being less stringent than necessary on other UAS. Instead, § 107.49(a)(1) will require the remote pilot in command to assess local weather conditions as part of the preflight assessment required by § 107.49. If the remote pilot in command determines that the wind speed is too high to safely conduct the small UAS operation, then he or she will have to either reschedule the operation or implement mitigations to ensure the safety of the operation.

One commenter asked the FAA to clarify whether the 3-mile flight visibility requirement is horizontal visibility or slant angle visibility. The commenter asserted that there are many situations where radiation or advection fog might obscure horizontal visibility yet bright blue sky is visible above the fog.

The 3-mile flight visibility requirement is based on a slant angle from the control station. In other words, a person standing at the control station of the small UAS must be able to see at a diagonal distance of 3 miles into the sky in order to detect other aircraft that may be approaching the area of operation. This requirement ensures that the remote pilot in command can effectively observe the airspace for presence of other aircraft, and reduces the possibility of the remote pilot or visual observer losing sight of the unmanned aircraft.

To further clarify this concept, the FAA has amended § 107.51(c) to explain that flight visibility refers to the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences suggested that the rule prohibit small UAS operations above clouds because those operations could endanger manned aircraft flying under instrument flight rules (IFR). In response, the FAA notes that a person is unlikely to be able to maintain visual line of sight of a small unmanned aircraft that is flying above the clouds.

Schertz Aerial Services, the Permanent Editorial Board of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct Initiative, and the City and County of Denver, Colorado suggested that the proposed flight-visibility and minimum-cloud-distance requirements be increased. Schertz Aerial Services said that because UAS are so much smaller than manned aircraft, the proposed 3-mile flight visibility requirement, which was developed for manned aircraft, is not adequate for UAS and should be increased to 5 statute miles. Denver also recommended increasing the minimum flight visibility requirement to 5 statute miles, but only in controlled airspace. The commenter additionally recommended the imposition of a 2,000-foot ceiling for operations in controlled airspace. “Those visibility enhancements,” Denver continued, “will maximize opportunities for both the operator and other aircraft pilots to successfully employ the see-and-avoid technique.”

One commenter said the minimum flight visibility requirement should be increased to 10 to 12 miles and the distance-from-cloud requirements should both be increased by 1,000 feet. Another commenter said the FAA should set a specific percentage or range for cloud coverage to be allowed during flight, in addition to the distance-from-cloud requirements.

The FAA recognizes the fact that increased flight visibility would provide more time for the remote pilot in command to maneuver away from other aircraft. However, the likelihood of the remote pilot seeing other small UAS, other smaller aircraft, or other hazards such as power lines or antennas from a distance of five or more miles is not probable, so such a requirement would not create an additional safety buffer. A 5-mile visibility requirement above 10,000 feet mean sea level (not including the surface to 2,500 feet above ground level) is imposed by part 91 because manned-aircraft pilots have a need for increased visibility at that higher altitude due to permitted airspeeds above 288 mph. A remote pilot in command, on the other hand, will remain on the ground and will have to deal with ground obstacles that impede vision. The remote pilot in command will also be looking into the sky at a slant angle from the ground rather than horizontally in the manner of a manned-aircraft pilot. This means that a remote pilot will generally be challenged to perceive useful information from his or her vision beyond three miles. An increase in the cloud distance requirements poses the same dilemma, unless the object is large enough or distinct enough it will not likely be visible early enough to provide the opportunity to avoid or change course sooner.

PlaneSense and Cobalt Air, commenting jointly, recommended prohibiting a remote pilot from operating a small UAS if the ceiling is lower than 1000 feet MSL. The commenters contended that for manned aircraft, the pilot is in the aircraft and is therefore better able to make a determination about the distance to a cloud from the aircraft than an operator on the ground positioned 1/4 mile away from the unmanned aircraft.

The FAA declines to prohibit small UAS operations when cloud ceilings are lower than 1,000 feet AGL.87 Specifically, the FAA disagrees that the remote pilot in command will not be in a position to determine whether the unmanned aircraft is positioned sufficiently far enough from a cloud to meet the requirements of § 107.51(d). While this rule does not require specific technological equipage to determine altitude of the unmanned aircraft, nothing in this rule precludes the remote pilot in command from doing so as a means to mitigate the risk of cloud clearance requirements. A remote pilot in command may also opt to operate the unmanned aircraft at a sufficiently low altitude that he or she can easily determine the aircraft’s altitude. Further, cloud ceilings can be determined through nearby AWOS/ASOS/ATIS reports, visual cloud observations, or observation of obscuration of nearby prominent landmarks of a known elevation. If a remote pilot in command cannot ensure that the unmanned aircraft will maintain sufficient cloud clearance in accordance with § 107.51(d), that person may not conduct operations until weather conditions improve. As such, no minimum ceiling requirement is necessary in this rule.

Noting that the NPRM would not require a qualified weather observer, one commenter questioned who is responsible for determining visibility at the time of the operation. The commenter further questioned if the regulation has a requirement for the airman trained and certificated for small UAS to receive training and demonstrate competence in making accurate visibility determinations. Another commenter also questioned who determines visibility, and recommended that FAA require as a minimum that VMC exist and that the closest Official Weather Reporting Station be used. Under this rule, the remote pilot in command is ultimately responsible for determining whether a flight can be conducted safely. As part of the preflight assessment required by § 107.49, the remote pilot in command must evaluate local weather conditions, which includes an evaluation of whether those conditions are sufficient to meet the requirements of § 107.51(c) and (d). With regard to competence, as discussed in section III.F.2.j of this preamble, knowledge of aviation weather sources that can be used to inform the small UAS operation will be tested on both the initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge test. The initial aeronautical knowledge test will also test the airman certificate applicant’s knowledge of effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance. For the reasons discussed in section III.F.2.e of this preamble, formal training and practical testing requirements are not a necessary component of this rule.

………………………

ii. Vertical Boundary (Maximum Altitude)
Next, we turn to the vertical boundary of the confined area of operation. Because most manned aircraft operations take place higher than 500 feet above ground level (AGL), the NPRM proposed a 500-foot operating ceiling for small UAS operations. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will reduce the operating ceiling to 400 feet AGL unless the small unmanned aircraft: (1) is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure, and (2) does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. This operating-ceiling provision will be waivable.

Several commenters, including the Professional Photographers of America, ALPA, Boeing, Google, and State Farm, supported the 500-foot altitude limit proposed in the NPRM. Some noted that a 500-foot ceiling for UAS operations would strike a positive balance between flexibility for the UAS operator and the safety of manned aircraft operating in the NAS.

Other commenters, including Barrick Gold of North America, argued that the altitude restrictions in the rule are unnecessary because the current airspace stratification and operating rules already provide the requisite level of safety. Barrick added, however, that it would support a buffer of 200 feet below the terminus of Class G airspace. An altitude limit for small UAS operations is necessary in this rule. Given the expected proliferation of small UAS in the NAS, and the safety implications for manned aircraft, the FAA must address the safe use of small UAS in the NAS. Moreover, Congress has directed the FAA to establish a regulatory framework to safely integrate small UAS operations into the NAS. Allowing unrestricted small unmanned aircraft to operate at high altitude without the benefit of additional equipment (for example, transponders and altimeters) and the provision of air traffic services introduces a significant threat of collision to manned aircraft operating in the NAS. Most manned aircraft operations transit the airspace at or above 500 feet AGL, and an altitude limitation provides a necessary barrier between small unmanned aircraft and a significant majority of manned aircraft operations in the NAS. However, as discussed below, this rule will make an exception to the altitude restriction for small UAS operations that are conducted close to a structure. Other commenters, including Northrop Grumman Corporation, AOPA, EAA, and HAI, recommended a reduction in the proposed 500-foot altitude limit. These commenters were concerned about the potential for conflict with manned aircraft operating in the NAS. The United States Ultralight Association and the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association expressed general concern regarding the volume of manned aircraft traffic below 500 feet and the potential for collisions with small unmanned aircraft.

While some commenters did not recommend a specific alternate maximum altitude, most that did favored a 400-foot operating ceiling. Commenters offered a variety of reasons to support a 400-foot altitude limit. One commenter justified a lower altitude by noting it is difficult for the operator to maintain visual contact with the small unmanned aircraft when operated above 500 feet, and a 400-foot limit would provide an added margin of safety. Most commenters stated that a 400-foot altitude limit would provide a reasonable buffer between UAS and manned aircraft operating in the NAS. NAAA remarked that recent narrowly averted collisions involving agricultural aircraft and UAS aircraft justify the establishment of a 400-foot limit. NAAA also noted the importance of the missions performed by aircraft at lower altitude, including agricultural and air ambulance operations. Northrop Grumman and the Aviation Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation asserted that a 500-foot altitude does not provide an adequate buffer between UAS operations and those conducted by manned aircraft.

Other commenters, including the North Central Texas Council of Governments, noted that the 100-foot difference between the limits for model aircraft and UAS aircraft, which would result from the proposed 500-foot altitude ceiling, would create confusion. These commenters pointed out that because it is difficult to distinguish between UAS and model aircraft, the two should have similar altitude restrictions.

Some commenters identified lower ceilings for UAS operations in other countries. For example, one commenter noted that Australia has established a 400-foot limit for UAS operations. Further, Transport Canada cited a similar approach for UAS operations in Canada, noting that a 400-foot operating ceiling provides a margin of safety that considers barometric altimeter error and cold weather temperature corrections.

Some commenters, however, asserted that even a 400-foot maximum altitude is too high. The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association recommended a limit of 200 feet to provide an adequate altitude buffer between UAS and rotorcraft operations. One commenter suggested a 200-foot limit until ADS-B is mandated for UAS. Positive air traffic control was also recommended as a requirement for operations above 200 feet. In contrast, several commenters, including those from the media and agricultural communities, asserted that the proposed 500-foot altitude limit for small unmanned aircraft operations is overly restrictive. One commenter stated that the 500-foot altitude ceiling increases the risk for striking terrain, power lines, or other structures. A commenter also noted that the proposed altitude restriction may contribute to a loss of communication with the aircraft due to terrain and other obstructions.

The most frequently cited reason for raising the altitude limit was to allow the small unmanned aircraft to more effectively perform missions such as search and rescue, aerial surveys, and other applications for industries ranging from agriculture to petroleum, as well as inspections of buildings, bridges and other structures. In addition, several commenters asserted that a 500-foot limit is impractical for radio-controlled soaring. Aerobatic operations would also be severely limited by a 500-foot restriction. Other commenters highlighted the needs of the media industry, remarking that a
500-foot restriction limits the utility of UAS for certain newsgathering operations.

Commenters noted that for these activities, the ability to operate at higher altitudes increases their ability to film news events and access other areas beyond normal reach. Some commenters, including the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, suggested that the 500-foot operating ceiling could be lifted under certain circumstances in remote areas given the uncongested airspace above remote areas. The American Petroleum Institute agreed that a case-by-case process is needed for approval to fly at higher altitudes. In its comments, API noted that the proposed rule effectively eliminates lower-resolution surveillance operations where larger ground sample distances would have value for a variety of activities over broad areas, such as pipeline right-of-way surveying and metocean (meteorology and physical oceanography used in offshore and coastal engineering) data gathering. In addition, in areas with high vegetation, this restriction acts to limit distances across which pre-programmed flights may function even if the visual line-of-sight restriction were modified. One commenter noted this would be similar to what is now codified in 14 CFR 91.119 (b) and (c), and to the precedent established by 14 CFR part 101.

Many commenters, such as Boeing and the News Media Coalition, also focused on the need to permit higher operating altitudes in proximity to certain structures. This would allow small unmanned aircraft to be used to perform inspections and other tasks that would traditionally place persons in harm’s way. The Exelon Corporation noted the need to allow for inspection of tall structures. An individual recommended that the FAA allow operations at higher altitudes within a 2,000-foot radius of certain towers. NoFlyZone.org asserted that UAS operations above 500 feet should be permitted within 250 feet of a structure as long as the operator has permission from that structure’s owner. Skycatch asked that operations above 500 feet be permitted under specific circumstances, such as bridge or building inspections as proposed by AUVSI. The Professional Society of Drone Journalists stated that the airspace above and around buildings should be considered to be the domain of legal UAS operations.

Commenters also recommended mechanisms to allow operations above 500 feet ranging from pilot training and equipment requirements (such as transponders and ADS-B), to the establishment of flight restriction areas or a waiver process. The American Insurance Association requested that UAS aircraft be allowed to operate above 500 feet if accompanied by a visual observer on the ground aided by a mechanical enhancement of his or her sight.

Other commenters noted that an increase in altitude may be appropriate in areas where the threat to manned aircraft is minimal. For example, one commenter proposed that in Class G airspace, the ceiling for UAS operations be raised to the base of the overlying controlled airspace. A variety of other altitudes were proposed. Clean Gulf Associates stated that 1,000 feet is an appropriate altitude, allowing for oil spill skimming targeting operations, where the mid-air threat over water is lower. Prioria Robotics also proposed 1,000 feet. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers noted that technical developments in the near future will allow for operations up to 1,000 feet with additional equipage and procedural safeguards. Another commenter stated that if an under-10-pound category of UAS aircraft could be created, an altitude of 1,000 feet should be permitted. Another commenter offered that an increase in maximum altitudes is appropriate as size of the UAS aircraft increases. For example, a rotorcraft up to 4 kgs or a fixed-wing aircraft between 6 and 12 kgs would be able to fly up to 700 feet AGL. Rotorcraft up to 20 kgs and fixed wing up between 12 and 24 kgs would be able to fly up to 3,000 feet AGL. These altitude limits would be accompanied by pilot medical and training requirements, as well as additional equipage requirements, such as ADS-B.

One commenter noted that the rule is harsh toward non-hazardous UAS operations. This commenter argued that low-altitude quad copter operations should be given relief to operate at altitudes similar to those used for a commercial moored balloon or kite. The Resource Stewardship Consortia proposed an extension up to 1,400 feet for a proof of concept trial performed in places where the threat of collateral damage is minimal should a failure occur, and for operations that would benefit from a higher altitude.

In response to comments addressing the specific altitude limit, the FAA agrees that a 400-foot ceiling will allow for a significant number of applications for the small UAS community, while providing an added level of safety for manned-aircraft operations. A ceiling of 400 feet AGL will provide an additional 100-foot margin of safety between small UAS operations and a majority of aircraft operations in the NAS. This additional 100-foot buffer will help maintain separation between small unmanned aircraft and most manned aircraft in instances such as the remote pilot losing positive control of the small unmanned aircraft or incorrectly estimating the altitude of the aircraft.

Further, the revised limit addresses other concerns regarding potential confusion between model aircraft and small unmanned aircraft. Specifically, limiting operations to 400 feet is consistent with FAA guidance on model aircraft best practices identified in AC 91-57A, thus standardizing operating altitudes for the majority of small unmanned aircraft flying in the NAS. A 400-foot altitude ceiling is also consistent with the approach adopted in other countries. Specifically, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom all set a 400- foot or lower altitude limit on UAS operations conducted in those countries. While the FAA considered the lower altitudes proposed by commenters, it ultimately determined that these lower limits would unnecessarily restrict small UAS operations without a commensurate increase in safety because the concentration of manned aircraft below 400 feet AGL is much lower than the concentration of manned aircraft at or above 500 feet AGL. The FAA also considered the comment recommending positive air traffic control above 200 feet. The FAA ultimately rejected this recommendation because it is overly burdensome to both remote pilots and the air traffic control system. Air traffic controllers could not reliably provide positive separation for operations at this altitude throughout the NAS, and the benefits to users from such separation efforts would not justify the significant additional workload placed on air traffic controllers or the equipment and training costs to remote pilots. In addition, without additional equipment mandates, the provision of positive air traffic control would be unachievable.

To address the concerns expressed by commenters requesting higher operating altitudes in proximity to buildings, towers, power lines, and other tall structures for the purposes of inspections and repair, the FAA is establishing new provisions in the final rule that will enable those operations in a way that does not compromise aviation safety. Specifically, the FAA notes that 14 CFR 91.119 generally prohibits manned aircraft from operating in close proximity to structures. Section 91.119 requires manned aircraft to stay 500 to 1,000 feet away from the structure, depending on whether the area is congested. Because manned aircraft are not permitted to operate in close proximity to structures, this rule will allow a small unmanned aircraft to fly higher than 400 feet AGL as long as that
aircraft remains within a 400-foot radius of a structure up to an altitude of 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. Allowing higher-altitude small UAS operations within a 400-foot lateral limit of a structure will enable additional operations (such as tower inspection and repair) while maintaining separation between small unmanned aircraft and most manned aircraft operations.

The FAA disagrees that a further increase in altitude is justified. Higher-altitude small unmanned aircraft operating in airspace that is transited by most manned aircraft operations would no longer be separated from those manned aircraft, which would greatly increase the risks of a collision. Most remote pilots of small UAS would also benefit very little from an additional increase in altitude because the visual-line-of-sight restrictions of this rule and the equipment limitations of a small UAS would, in many cases, limit the ability or need to operate at altitudes higher than what is provided for by this rule. Such a limited benefit would not be commensurate with the added risk that a higher altitude would impose upon other users of the NAS.

However, the FAA recognizes that new technologies may increase the feasibility of higher altitude operations. Therefore, to provide flexibility to accommodate new developments, the altitude limitation of this rule will be waivable. Thus, if a remote pilot demonstrates that his or her high-altitude small UAS limitation will not decrease safety, the FAA may allow that operation through a certificate of waiver. This will enable a number of operations, such as research and development for higher-altitude small UAS operations. The FAA is committed to working with the stakeholder community to pursue such options when it is deemed appropriate.

With regard to search and rescue operations, most of these operations are conducted by government entities under COAs as public aircraft operations. Those operations will therefore not be subject to the altitude limitations of this rule.

Several commenters raised concerns regarding a remote pilot’s ability to discern the altitude of the small unmanned aircraft. Commenters including AOPA and GAMA asserted that current UAS lack accurate altimetry systems, making compliance with any altitude restriction difficult. GAMA asked that the FAA clarify how an operator determines the UAS altitude in flight. Similarly, one individual stated that while the altitudes proposed in the rule are in principle sound, they are unenforceable. Other commenters asserted that it is impossible to judge altitude, particularly over precipitous terrain, and that altitude restrictions of any kind may only be relied upon if UAS were required to have altitude limiting devices. The Permanent Editorial Board of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct
proposed that the FAA require the use of a practical technique for UAS operators to estimate their altitude with sufficient accuracy or require the use of a technical solution to ensure compliance.

Remote pilots have effective techniques to determine altitude without mandating the installation of an altimetry system. For example, with the unmanned aircraft on the ground, a remote pilot in command may separate him or herself 400 feet from the aircraft in order to gain a visual perspective of the aircraft at that distance. Remote pilots may also use the known height above the ground of local rising terrain and/or structures as a reference. The FAA acknowledges that these methods of estimating altitude are less precise than equipment-based altitude determinations, which is one of the reasons this rule will increase the separation between manned and small unmanned aircraft by reducing the maximum altitude for small unmanned aircraft to 400 feet AGL.

Additionally, the FAA will provide, in its guidance materials, examples of equipment options that may be used by remote pilots to accurately determine the altitude of their small unmanned aircraft. One example is the installation of a calibrated altitude reporting device on the small unmanned aircraft. This device reports the small unmanned aircraft’s altitude above mean sea level (MSL). By subtracting the MSL elevation of the control station from the small unmanned aircraft’s reported MSL altitude, the aircraft’s AGL altitude may be determined. The installation of a GPS altitude-reporting device may also provide for a requisite level of altitude control. The FAA emphasizes, however, that this equipment is simply one means of complying with the altitude restrictions in this rule. One commenter asked if the proposed 500-foot limit represents the altitude above the launch point or the height of the UAS altitude above the ground. The commenter noted that some topographical features present dramatic changes in altitude. Glider operators raised similar questions regarding altitude over sloping terrain.

The maximum altitude ceiling imposed by this rule is intended to limit the height of the aircraft above the ground over which it is flying (AGL). It is incumbent upon the remote pilot in command to maintain flight at or below this ceiling regardless of the topography.

Several commenters stated that the 500-foot altitude restriction does not address the public’s expectation that airspace (up to 500 feet) above private property is under their control and may not be penetrated without permission. Event 38 Unmanned Systems stated that the FAA should attempt to set a reasonable altitude requirement for overflight of property not controlled by any UAS operator. This commenter proposed a 100-foot limit for incidental incursions and a 300-foot limit for intentional flight across private property without permission. Another commenter suggested requiring small UAS to operate between 400 and 500 feet AGL when flying above private property, unless the remote pilot has obtained the property owner’s permission. Other commenters, including the NJIT
Working Group and the Kansas Livestock Association, commented on the relationship between the final rule requirements and trespass and nuisance protections for private landowners.

Adjudicating private property rights is beyond the scope of this rule. However, the provisions of this rule are not the only set of laws that may apply to the operation of a small UAS. With regard to property rights, trespassing on property (as opposed to flying in the airspace above a piece of property) without the owner’s permission may be addressed by State and local trespassing law. As noted in section III.K.6 of this preamble, the FAA will address preemption issues on a case-by-case basis rather than doing so in a rule of general applicability.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments opposed a 500-foot maximum altitude, stating it is inconsistent with Public Law 112-95 and the 400-foot ceiling identified in Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57.

Public Law 112-95 directs the Department to establish requirements for safe integration of UAS operations into the NAS but does not specify the altitude parameters of such operations. AC 91-57A is advisory in nature and pertains to model aircraft not subject to part 107. However, the 400-foot maximum altitude imposed by this rule is similar to the 400-foot maximum altitude suggested as a best practice for modelers by AC 91-57A. One commenter stated that the COA process should be maintained for operations outside of class G airspace and altitudes above 500 feet. However, with the exception of flight that is within 400 feet of a structure, small unmanned aircraft seeking to fly higher than 400 feet AGL will have to obtain a waiver to do so.

Several commenters recommended the creation of specialized airspace for UAS operations. This may include designated airspace for certain clubs, or the establishment of special airways or corridors. Farris Technology and the University Of Washington promoted the use of corridors or dedicated airways that will allow UAS flights above 500 feet.

Creation of UAS-specific airspace is beyond the scope of this rule because the NPRM did not propose to create any new airspace classifications or reclassify existing airspace.

One commenter suggested that the 500-foot restriction in Class G airspace should only be in place for rotorcraft UAS. However, after careful consideration, the FAA could not find a compelling reason to differentiate between fixed-wing and rotorcraft UAS for the purposes of altitude restrictions. For both aircraft, the threats posed to the NAS are similar. The UAS aircraft class itself does not mitigate those threats in any calculable manner. Therefore, a distinction based on UAS aircraft class is unwarranted. ALPA recommended a change to the preamble discussion regarding the maximum altitude. As currently written, the preamble to the NPRM states that a small unmanned aircraft is prohibited from “travel higher than 500 feet AGL.”95 ALPA recommended replacing the word “travel” with “fly” or “operate.” For added clarity, the FAA will use the terms “fly” or “operate” in discussing the maximum altitude limitation in this preamble.

Several commenters, including Green Vegans, stated that the proposed 500-foot operating ceiling would make it impossible to comply with 14 CFR 91.119, which
prescribes minimum altitudes for part 91 operations. Green Vegans questioned how a small UAS operator could remain in compliance with both part 107 and section 91.119. Except where expressly stated to the contrary, the provisions of part 107 will replace the provisions of part 91 for small UAS operations subject to this rule. Consequently, a small UAS operating under part 107 will not be required to comply with § 91.119

……………………….

The NPRM proposed a maximum air speed limit of 87 knots (100 mph) for small unmanned aircraft. The FAA explained that this speed limit is necessary because if there is a loss of positive control, an aircraft traveling at high speed poses a higher risk to persons, property, and other aircraft than an aircraft traveling at a lower speed. The NPRM also noted that a speed limit would have safety benefits outside of a loss-of-positive-control scenario because a small unmanned aircraft traveling at a lower speed is generally easier to control than a higher-speed aircraft. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will impose an 87-knot (100 mph) speed limit. This rule will, however, make the pertinent speed measurement the groundspeed rather than the airspeed of the small unmanned aircraft. The speed limit will also be waivable. Commenters including NAMIC, the Drone User Group Network, and the Remote Control Aerial Platform Association supported the proposed maximum airspeed. These commenters generally noted that the speed limitation of 100 mph seems reasonable for small UAS operating within visual line of sight.

Other commenters, including the Air Medical Operators Association, the Virginia Department of Aviation, and SWAPA, stated that FAA should lower the maximum permissible airspeed (e.g., to 50 or 75 mph) because, the commenters argued, the proposed speed of 100 mph is too high and would pose undue risks. Several commenters, including Texas A&M University, HAI, the Virginia Department of Aviation and others, asserted that the NPRM failed to demonstrate the safety of the proposed speed limitation. These commenters argued that it would be extremely difficult to maintain positive control of a small unmanned aircraft flying at 100 mph.

Some commenters, including the American Association for Justice, the United States Ultralight Association, and the State of Nevada, asserted that the kinetic energy of a 55-pound object moving at 100 mph could cause significant damage to large aircraft. The US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and Predesa stated that a lower maximum speed would provide additional time for UAS operators and pilots of manned aircraft to see and avoid each other. Several of these commenters, including the Metropolitan Airports Commission and Kansas State University UAS Program, stated that a 100 mph speed limit would make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) for an operator to maintain visual line of sight with the unmanned aircraft. NBAA, the Airports Council International—North America and the American Association of Airport Executives recommended that the FAA conduct further study and risk assessment regarding appropriate speed limitations for this type of UAS. The Permanent Editorial Board of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct Initiative argued that FAA should establish a lower maximum speed that will create no greater harm than is caused by most birds (approximately 30 knots) until such time as further data demonstrates the safety of a higher speed limitation.

A speed limit of 87 knots (100 mph) must be viewed within the context of the overall regulatory framework of part 107. In other words, a small unmanned aircraft may reach a speed of 87 knots only if the remote pilot in command can satisfy all of the applicable provisions of part 107 while flying the small unmanned aircraft at 87 knots. For example, since this rule requires small UAS operations to be conducted within visual line of sight, a remote pilot in command may not allow the small unmanned aircraft to reach a speed where visual-line-of-sight cannot be maintained in accordance with § 107.31. Additionally, as discussed in section III.E.3.b.vi of this preamble, the remote pilot in command must, prior to flight, assess the operating environment and consider risks to persons and property in the vicinity both on the surface and in the air. The remote pilot in command must also ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property in the event of a loss of control of the aircraft for any reason. Thus, if the remote pilot in command plans to have an operation in which the small unmanned aircraft will travel at 87 knots, that remote pilot will, as part of the preflight assessment process, need to take precautions to ensure that the unmanned aircraft will not pose an undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property on the ground. Those precautions will likely be greater than the precautions that a remote pilot in command will need to take for a small unmanned aircraft traveling at a lower speed. Accordingly, a maximum speed limit of 87 knots is appropriate because the remote pilot in command will have to implement mitigations commensurate with the risk posed by his or her specific small UAS operation.

Other commenters, including Textron Systems recommended no limitations regarding airspeed, arguing that as long as the operator can maintain visual line of sight and control of the UAS, there should be no performance limitations.

A speed limit is generally necessary for small unmanned aircraft because an aircraft traveling at high speed poses a higher risk to persons, property, and other aircraft than an aircraft traveling at lower speed. As discussed earlier, the other parameters of this rule (such as visual line of sight and the preflight assessment conducted by the remote pilot in command) mitigate this risk for small unmanned aircraft traveling at speeds up to 87 knots. However, those parameters do not address the risk posed by small unmanned aircraft traveling at speeds faster than 87 knots. Accordingly, this rule will retain the proposed 87-knot speed limit but will make that limit waivable. As part of the waiver process, the FAA will consider operation-specific mitigations to address additional risk posed by higher-speed small UAS operations.

The Kansas State University UAS Program and SWAPA questioned whether there would be any commercial applications of small UAS that would necessitate a 100 mph airspeed. Further, several commenters, including Modovolate Aviation, asserted that many small UAS, such as those employing multi-rotor technology, may not need to or may not be able to reach a speed of 100 mph.

The FAA agrees that there will likely be small unmanned aircraft incapable of reaching a speed of 87 knots. The FAA also agrees that there will likely be small UAS operations that are incapable of satisfying the other provisions of this rule, such as visual line of sight, at a speed of 87 knots. However, that is not a sufficient justification for reducing the maximum permissible speed for all small unmanned aircraft because there may be small UAS operations that can reach a speed of 87 knots and operate safely at that speed in compliance with all applicable provisions of part 107.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation noted that the FAA did not propose any specific equipage requirements for small UAS that would be used to determine airspeed. Similarly, CAPA stated that the NPRM does not require or define how the operator will maintain operations below a specified airspeed other than visually, which the commenter said would be very difficult to do when operating in congested airspace and scanning for other conflicts.

Aerius recommended that the FAA amend the proposed regulatory text to make any speed limitations based on groundspeed because many UAS are not equipped with a system that would provide airspeed to the small UAS operator. Several individuals noted that multi-rotor helicopter UAS cannot sense airspeed, only groundspeed. Another individual suggested that the regulatory text be amended to reference GPS-generated airspeed because all UAS do not have the equipment to provide airspeed to the operator.

As noted by the commenters, the provisions of this rule will not require small UAS to be equipped with a system that would provide calibrated airspeed to the remote pilot in command. The FAA also notes that the groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft is what is pertinent to the safety of a small UAS operation because that is the information that specifies how quickly the aircraft is moving relative to the ground in proximity to where the remote pilot is located. Because changing the standard to groundspeed rather than calibrated airspeed would not have a detrimental effect on safety and because many unmanned aircraft may not have the equipage necessary to measure calibrated airspeed, the FAA agrees with the commenters and has changed the maximum airspeed standard to be a function of groundspeed. A small unmanned aircraft’s groundspeed could be determined by measures such as GPS-based speed, visual estimation, a radar gun, or timed travel across a fixed distance. This rule will retain the maximum speed limit of 87 knots (100 mph), but that limit will be a measure of groundspeed rather than airspeed.

A few individuals (who self-identified as recreational operators of model aircraft) said the proposed maximum speed would preclude them from holding certain types of model aircraft competitions. In response, the FAA emphasizes that, as discussed in section III.C.4 of this preamble, part 107 will not apply to model aircraft operations that meet the criteria of section 336 of Public Law 112-95.

Previous RegulationBack to Drone Regulations DirectoryNext Regulation


Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards Explained (2019)

Tape measureIf you are wanting to become a remote pilot, you need to know what is in the Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards (ACS).

What Are the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS)?

An ACS is a “comprehensive presentation that integrates the standards for what an applicant needs to know, consider, and do in order to pass both the knowledge test . . . for a certificate or rating.” There are multiple types of airmen certificates (private, commercial, remote, etc.) that are issued by the FAA which each have their own privileges an  Each of these certificates have their own ACS.  The ACS is really a standard by which to measure if an applicant is qualified in an objective way. The FAA released a pdf of FAQ’s on ACS in general.

Here is a video explaining the ACS as it is being implemented generally.

How Do I Use the Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards to Study for the Part 107 Exam?

The Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards includes Areas of Operation and Tasks for the initial issuance of a Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating. You should study to know the material listed. Each task in the ACS is coded according to a scheme that includes four elements. For example:

UA.I.B.K10:
UA = Applicable ACS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)
I = Area of Operation (Regulations)
B = Task (Operating Rules)
K10 = Task element Knowledge 10 (Visual line of sight (VLOS) aircraft operations)

The ACS also tells you how the test will be weighted which can allow you to more wisely spend your time when studying. Some topics make a large portion of the knowledge exam which means you should master those topics.

I’m a Part 61 pilot. What about those Practical Test Standards (PTS)?

“The ACS is basically an enhanced version of the Practical Test Standards (PTS).” If you are a manned aircraft pilot, you most likely remember the PTS. The ACS will replace the PTS, but since this Part 107 exam is brand new, their is no remote pilot PTS. It is just a brand new remote pilot ACS. Unfortunately, if you are taking a knowledge exam, the areas you missed on the exam will be displayed on a print out as a learning statement code (LSC), not an ACS code. “The [FAA] is contracting for a test management services system that will include this capability. In the initial ACS implementation phase, however, applicants, instructors, and evaluators will continue to see PLT codes on the airman knowledge test report.”

Has the FAA Change the Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards?

Yes. The FAA issued a draft Remote Pilot ACS in 2016 and later issued an updated ACS in July 2016. The most current ACS is dated June 2018. Two of the most significant changes below are the percentages of certain test subjects were INCREASED. Many created study courses, guides, material, etc. to help individuals study for the Part 107 exam used the draft Remote Pilot ACS. I’m not sure how many of them knew that the ACS was updated so buyer beware online.

Keep in mind there were many small edits for continuity or fixing errors, but they didn’t matter. The same message was still conveyed. (One funny one was Appendix 5 which defined CFI as Chief Flight Engineer.)

Changes Between the Draft and the July 2016 Remote Pilot ACS.

LOCATION

NEW

DRAFT

I. Regulations References14 CFR parts 47, 48 and 107, subpart B; AC 107-214 CFR part 107, subpart A; AC 107
I. Regulations

Objective (Add)

To determine that the applicant is knowledgeable of the operating rules of 14 CFR part 107, the registration rules of 14 CFR parts 47 and 48, and other associated operating requirements.To determine that the applicant exhibits competence in knowledge and risk management associated with the general regulatory requirements of 14 CFR part 107.
UA.I.B.K6 (Split)6. Hazardous operations.

a. Careless or reckless

b. Dropping an object

6. Hazardous operations, such as careless or reckless behavior or allowing an object to be dropped.
UA.I.B.K21 (Split)21. Operating limitations for sUAS.

a. Maximum groundspeed

b. Altitude limitations

c. Minimum visibility

d. Cloud clearance requirements

21. Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
UA.I.B.K22 (Complete change)22. The requirements for a Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating.22. Model aircraft operations status.
UA.I.B.K23 (Delete)23. Flights defined as public aircraft operations.
UA.I.B.K24 (Delete)24. Requirements for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
UA.I.D.K1 (Subtraction)1. The waiver policy and requirements.1. The waiver policy and the understanding of the regulatory subject matter, equivalent level of safety requirement, and special provisions in a waiver.
II. Airspace Classification and Operating Requirements

References (Add)

14 CFR part 71; AC 107-2; FAA-H-8083-25; AIM [NOTE: I believe the FAA should have also included 14 CFR Part 73 in here as well]AC 107; FAA-H-8083-25; AIM
UA.II.B.K2ATC authorizations and related operating limitations.Concepts relating to ATC clearances and permissions.
UA.II.B.K3 3.(They merely deleted “maximum altitude limit” from the draft and everything moved up.)Maximum altitude limit.
UA.II.B.K5The NOTAM system including how to obtain an established NOTAM through Flight Service.(this moved up to K4).
UA.II.B.K6 (Deleted)It looks like this was combined into UA.II.B.K56. Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) airspace.
UA.II.B.K7 (Deleted)It looks like this was combined into UA.II.B.K57. Notice to airmen (NOTAMS) system including how to obtain an established NOTAM through Flight Service.
UA.V.A.K8 (Subtraction)

 

Phraseology: altitudes, directions, speed, and time.Phraseology: figures, altitudes, directions, speed, and time.
V. Operations

Task B. Airport Operations

References (Addition)

AC 107-2, AC 150/5200-32; FAA-H-8083-25; AIMAC 107; AIM
V. Operations

Task D. Aeronautical Decision-Making (Subtraction)

AC 107-2; FAA-H-8083-2; FAA-H-8083-25AC 107; FAA-H-8083-25; AC 60-22
UA.V.F.K5 (Addition)5. Persons that may perform maintenance on an sUAS.
Appendix 1 (Add)The knowledge test applicant has up to two hours to complete the test.
Appendix 1 Table (Change)II. Airspace & Requirements

15 – 25%

II. Airspace & Requirements

8- 15%

(Change)V. Operations

35 – 45%

V. Operations

13-18%

Appendix 4 (Add)Part 47
DeleteAC 60-22 (Aeronautical Decision Making)
DeleteAC 91-57 (Model Aircraft Operating Standards)
AddFAA-H-8083-2 (Risk Management Handbook)
Appendix 5 (Abbreviations and Acronyms)  (Delete)AAS (Airport Advisory Services)
AddACR (Airman Certification Representative)
AddAKTC (Airman Knowledge Testing Center)
AddATC (Air Traffic Control)
ChangeCFI (Certified Flight Instructor)CFI

(Certified Flight Engineer)

DeleteDPE (Designated Pilot Examiner)
AddDOT (Department of Transportation)
AddFTN (FAA Tracking Number)
DeleteGCS (Ground Control Station)
AddIACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Applicant)
DeleteIFO (International Field Office)
DeleteIFU (International Field Unit)
DeleteMOA (Military Operating Area)
AddODA (Organization Designation Authorization)
AddRPE (Remote Pilot Examiner)
ChangeUNICOM (Aeronautical Advisory Communications Stations)UNICOM (Universal Integrated Community)
DeleteUTC (Coordinated Universal Time)
DeleteVMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions)
AddVLOS (Visual Line of Sight)

 

The FAA Part 107 ACS also included a helpful table.

 

AC 107-2 sUAS

Part 61 Pilot Certificate Holders with a Current Flight Review

Online Application After Knowledge Test [1] 

Paper Application [2] After Knowledge Test [1]

Online Application After Online CoursePaper Application [2] After Online Course
Submit an online application using Integrated Airman Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA.)

 

Receive email notification to print and sign a temporary certificate through IACRA.

 

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

Complete FAA Form 8710-13 and mail it with the original copy of your Knowledge Test Report to:

 

DOT/FAA Airmen Certification Branch, AFS-760 PO Box 25082 Oklahoma City, OK 73125

 

Do not receive a temporary certificate

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

Submit an online application using IACRA.

Meet with an FAA-authorized individual [3] to validate your:

• IACRA application ID number

• FAA Tracking Number (FTN)

• Identification

• Online course completion certificate

• Pilot certificate

• Flight review documentation

Receive a temporary certificate in person (or if meeting with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), receive email notification to print and sign a temporary certificate through IACRA) [4].

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

Complete FAA Form 8710-13.

Meet with an FAA-authorized individual [3] to validate your:

• FAA Form 8710-13

• Identification

• Online course completion certificate

• Pilot certificate

• Flight review documentation

Receive a temporary certificate in person (except when meeting with a CFI)[4]

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.


Ultimate Guide to Drone Laws [2019] Written by a Lawyer

Interested in drone laws? It can be a pain to try and figure out what is applicable. That is why I created this page! :)

Where NOT to Look for Help With Drone Laws

Here is a tip, stay away from Facebook or anyone else who is a newbie to aviation. They tend to waste your time and provide bad guidance. Seriously, you should be very careful where you get information from – not everyone is qualified to give you information. You don’t install random pieces of software you find on the internet onto your computer. Why would you do that for the laws and legal advice?

For example, I was reading a drone book, by someone very popular on the internet and Youtube, which was just completely – flat out – totally- 100% wrong. The section on drone laws was just horrible. I think this person just hired a copywriter to write the book which resulted in utter garbage. If you were to rely on that bad advice, you could get in trouble and be on the receiving end of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution. Worse yet, on their Youtube channel, they continued to give out legal advice that was incomplete. Either they were keeping their readers in the dark about one critically important piece of advice or they were sincerely, and incorrectly, giving out advice which could result in legal consequences.

You should vet everyone before you give them your time. Here, vet me by looking at my bio.

Where to Look for Help With Drone Laws

You should look at resources in this order:

  1. The actual drone regulations (Part 107, Part 101, Part 47, Part 48, etc.) (Please keep in mind that the laws are constantly changing so even some of the regulations might be outdated.)
  2. The FAA’s website.
  3. My website! You can even use the search feature.
  4. Other competent drone lawyers or consultants (read the two articles below on how to find out as there are some really bad people out there).
  5. Your local Flight Standards District Office Aviation Safety Inspector, any FAA email on their website, etc.

I. United States Drone Laws

There are different levels of governmental authority in the U.S. We have a federated system where we are governed on certain things by the U.S. Federal Government and the state governments with those areas not enumerated to the U.S. government.

Additionally, the states have passed laws allowing counties, cities, and towns to regulate individuals.  At any given moment, a person can 3 or 4 levels of laws applying to them. For example, your drone operations could have the federal aviation laws, state drone laws, county drone laws, city or town laws, and maybe even HOA rules all applying to them.

Whether or not the states, counties, and cities can regulation drones is another big issue way outside of the scope of this article. As time goes on, things will shake out as to the scope of the drones laws the states, counties, cities, and towns can create. This will be determined by federal legislation or by federal case law determining what state drone laws are preempted and which drone laws are not.

A. Federal Drone Public Law

Public Law is law that has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. Sometimes people use the term “legislation” to describe the public law. Obamacare, HIPPA, etc. are all Public Laws. I created a directory of federal drone legislation that has been approved or proposed.  Most of the proposed drone legislation out there ends up never becoming law.

There has been two sets of laws specifically talking about drones:

There are other public laws that have been passed and which were codified in the United States Code. The Department of Justice enforces the Federal Criminal Code in Title 18 and the Federal Aviation Statutes in Title 49 of the United States Code.

There are some federal laws in Title 18 that could apply to drone operations such as  § 32 which would prohibit the destruction of the drone aircraft and  § 796 which prohibits the use of aircraft for photographing defense installations.

The Department of Justice attorneys have been involved at least twice with drone operators: (1) the Skypan case which was originally started in the federal district court in Chicago and (2) in the federal district court in Connecticut with the Haughwout case (the kid who attached a gun and later a flamethrower to a drone).

B. Federal Drone Regulations 

Regulations are created through the rulemaking process. There are many regulations that apply to drones and I have a federal drone regulations directory page to help people. Below is covering the agencies that enforce the laws but does not go in-depth on the regulations which is what the drone regulations directory page is designed to do.

1. Federal Aviation Regulations (Enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration)

We immediately think of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) when it comes to drone laws. The FAA enforces the Federal Aviation Regulations (“FARs”) which apply to all sorts of things such as student training, airports, maintenance, flying, aircraft certification, rocket launches, etc.

The two parts of the FARs that apply to drone operators are Part 107 (for non-recreational operations) and Part 101 (for recreational operations). But that is NOT all!

All drones are required to be registered under Part 47 or Part 48.

I have created many articles on the federal aviation regulations. I have listed below the most popular ones.

drone-laws-FAA-TSA-DOT-FCC-ITAR-EAR2. Other Federal Agencies and Their “Drone Laws”

The FAA is not the only agency that regulates drones. There are also others! Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive.

NTSB. If you crash your drone, you are required to report to the National Transportation Safety Board! Additionally, you might need to file an aviation safety reporting system form which is administered by NASA! See my article on What are you required to do after a drone crash?

TSA. The Transportation Safety Administration administers the alien flight student program (governed by the alien flight student regulations). All FAA certificated flight instructors know this and have to be careful regarding providing training as well as doing security awareness training. As I read it, I think the TSA could assert jurisdiction over flight instructors training alien flight students.

DOT. The Department of Transportation has regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous material (i.e. drone medical delivery).

FCC. The Federal Communications Commission regulations radio transmitters, the frequencies they transmit on, and the power of the transmitter. Many people don’t even pay attention to that sticker that is on the back of your controller. Take a chance to read it over some time.   The FCC put out an enforcement advisory on “DRONE AUDIO/VIDEO TRANSMITTER ACCESSORIES MUST COMPLY WITH THE COMMISSION’S RULES TO BE MARKETED TO U.S. CUSTOMERS”  The FCC has gone after companies who have sold drone related equipment that were transmitting on frequencies they should not, were over the legal power limit, or were not certified.

DOC. You also have the Department of Commerce with the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) and the State Department with the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone published an article detailing multiple prosecutions under ITAR.

NOAA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sometimes gets involved because they have jurisdiction over national sanctuaries.  NOAA created frequently asked questions 
regarding NOAA’s regulated overflight zones of West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries.

Are model aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) operations subject to NOAA regulated overflight zones?

A. Yes. Model aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) propelled by motors qualify as motorized aircraft under regulations of the sanctuaries, and therefore must adhere to sanctuary regulated overflight zones. As with traditional aircraft, UAS could operate above the sanctuaries’ minimum altitude limits, provided Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations allow them to fly at such altitudes. Current FAA rules impose altitude limitations on model aircraft and other Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

NPS. National Park Service has put out statements in the past prohibiting the operation of drones in national parks. Things have changed. It is hit or miss where you can fly at the different parks. Some locations have designated areas where you can fly but you have to check. Type in the name of the national park plus  “compendium” in Google and you should find some helpful results. Additionally, you should call ahead to see if anything has changed.

DOI. The Department of the Interior has regulations and you could get in trouble with some of them. 43 CFR § 9212.1 “Unless permitted in writing by the authorized officer, it is prohibited on the public lands to: . . . (f) Resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighter(s) to extinguish a fire; (g) Enter an area which is closed by a fire prevention order[.]”

B. State Drone Laws

All 50! I created a state drone law directory of all 50 states.  I also included some additional resources that would be helpful from the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National League of Cities. There is also a link to a model state drone legislation from ALEC.

Also, just like the federal agencies, state agencies have created regulations that can apply to drones as well. This is another reason you should contact an attorney licensed in that state for help.

II. International Drone Laws

There is no good reliable database of drone laws. I might create one as time goes on.

Below are the resources I have found on the internet that can assist you in finding the laws in a particular country.  I do not know how updated they are or accurate.  Use at your own risk.


Free Part 107 Test Study Guide For FAA Remote Pilot Airmen Certificate (Updated 2019)

 

Needing a Part 107 study guide to help really focus in on what needs to be studied so you can pass on the first try?

I created this free Part 107 test study guide to help my clients and the drone community based upon my experience as a FAA certificated flight instructor and aviation attorney. 

There are two tests: the initial and recurrent knowledge exam. Pick which one of these tests below to be taken to the portion of this page that is directly applicable to you.

The FAA compiled a list of many references in the final airmen certification standards for the remote pilot knowledge exam and FAA created study guide. Unfortunately, they did NOT include everything you need or would find helpful. Below I have included the material the FAA suggested you study along with extra items that the FAA should have included, which are in the bold text, that I added.

 

Part 107 Test Study Guide Table of Contents (Pick One)

First time test taker study guide.

Recurrent knowledge exam study guide.

 

 

First Time Test Taker Study Guide

I want to emphasize, after you pass your test, you should be looking for quality mentorship for the long term. Being a professional is not just about passing a test. If you are looking to be mediocre, I suggest you go to another industry and do us all a favor. It should be about learning the material AND how to apply it properly in practice.  Passing the Part 107 exam is merely the key unlocking the door to begin your journey into aviation, not a certificate saying you have arrived.

To reemphasize, once you pass your test, go find a competent flight instructor who can help you apply the knowledge you will learn to real life situations so you can be profitable, legal, and safe.

Update: I wrote an article on the Part 107 statistics (pass/fails, applications filed, applications approved, etc.)

Disclaimer:  You aren’t guaranteed to pass the test based off this material.

First Timers Step-by-Step Game Plan:

Step 1. Read all the steps.

Step 2. Sign up for the test. Instructions on signing up for the test getting your pilot license is here. You should pick a date based upon how much time you have in relation to how much material you need to go through. You are looking at around 538 pages of material you need to read. Yes, I know there are only 135 pages in THIS document. I reference pages in other documents below.

Step 3. Learn about the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) and read over the Part 107 ACS.

Step 4. Start studying the material below.

Step 5. Once you are done or feel competent. Take the test of 40 sample questions. For your deficient areas, go over those particular areas in the ACS. All 40 questions are answered and explained in this document in the back.

Step 6. In the final stretch of time, study Area II and Area V from the ACS since both of those areas will make up 50-70% of the test.

Step 7. After you passed your test, you should be looking for quality mentorship for the long term. Being a professional is not just about passing a test. If you are looking to be mediocre, I suggest you go to another industry and do us all a favor. It should be about learning the material AND how to apply it properly in practice. Now go find a competent flight instructor who can help you apply the knowledge you learned to real life situations so you can be profitable, legal, and safe.

 

Tips For While You Are Studying:

You will be able to take the test with the Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Sport Pilot, Recreational Pilot, and Private Pilot which is a great resource. There are two reasons why you should look for this supplement and know what is in it: (1) there are helpful legends which will be great for answering sectional map questions and (2) many questions on the test will reference some of the figures in this supplement. At the end of your studying, you should skim through and ask yourself questions based on the numbered areas on the sectional charts.

See a term you don’t know in the ACS? Look it up in the glossary of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) to see what the term means in a short statement. Want to learn more about the term in the ACS? Look up the term in the index of the PHAK and/or Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) which will tell you where to find more information.

Hit ctrl + f and type in the word to search through the PDF rapidly.

 

Free Material to Start Studying

The FAA compiled a list of references in the final ACS and FAA study guide. Unfortunately, they did not include everything you need or would find helpful. Below I have included the extra items that the FAA should have included, which are in the bold text.

I find it interesting the FAA did not note anything about Part 830 (except for one small reference in a PLT code) or the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). Both of those programs are focused on safety while the FAA’s accident reporting requirement in Part 107 is focused on safety and enforcement.  A pilot needs to know both of these programs. I find it also interesting the FAA didn’t mention anything about the NASA ASRS which is there for the pilot’s benefit, not the FAA’s, regarding enforcement actions.  Let that sink in for a second. This shows the importance of why you need to have a good aviation attorney in your corner to look after you, as the FAA won’t. Read What Do I Do After I Crash My Drone?

The total number of regulations and pages is very large. I chopped it up into what pieces of material you should know in entirety and what you should pick pieces and parts of based upon the ACS.

The total test will be 60 questions and you will have 2 hours to complete it. The minimum passing score is 70% which is a maximum of 18 questions wrong or a minimum of 42 questions right.

If there are any errors or broken links in here, for the greater good of everyone studying, let me know so I can correct it and inform everyone.

Reference

Title

Read Entirely

14 CFR Part 45 (Subpart A & C)Identification and Registration Marking
14 CFR part 47 Aircraft Registration
14 CFR part 48Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
14 CFR part 71Designation of Class A, B, C, D and E Airspace Areas; Air Traffic Service Routes; and Reporting Points
14 CFR part 73 [this should have been in there]SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE (Restricted and Prohibited Airspace).
14 CFR Part 91 Sections Referenced in Part 107.Sections:

·         91.17 Alcohol or Drugs

·         91.19 Carriage of narcotic drugs, marihuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances.

·         91.137 Temporary flight restrictions in the vicinity of disaster/hazard areas.

·         91.138 Temporary flight restrictions in national disaster areas in the State of Hawaii.

·         91.139 Emergency air traffic rules.

·         91.141 Flight restrictions in the proximity of the Presidential and other parties.

·         91.143 Flight limitation in the proximity of space flight operations.

·         91.144   Temporary restriction on flight operations during abnormally high barometric pressure conditions.

·         91.145 Management of aircraft operations in the vicinity of aerial demonstrations and major sporting events.

·         91.203(a)(2) Civil aircraft: Certifications required.

14 CFR 99.7§ 99.7 Special security instructions.
14 CFR Part 101 Subpart ESubpart E—Special Rule for Model Aircraft
14 CFR Part 107Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
49 CFR Part 830Notification And Reporting Of Aircraft Accidents Or Incidents And Overdue Aircraft, And Preservation Of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail, Cargo, And Records
SAFO 15010 (2 Pages)Carriage of Spare Lithium Batteries in Carry-on and Checked Baggage
SAFO 10015 (1 Page and 23 minute video)Flying in the wire environment
SAFO 10017 (3 Pages)Risks in Transporting Lithium Batteries in Cargo by Aircraft
SAFO 09013 (1 Page and a 10.5 minute Video)Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices
AC 150/5200-32 (11 Pages)Reporting Wildlife Aircraft Strikes
AC 107-2  (53 Pages)Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
FAA-S-ACS-10 (33 Pages)Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standards
FAA-G-8082-22 (87 Pages)Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide
FAA-G-8082-20 (17 Pages)Remote Pilot Knowledge Test Guide

Articles I wrote that will help you understand some of the areas you need to know for the test. (12 webpages total)

·         Part 107 (ACS) Airmen Certification Standards Explained (2 pages)

·         Part 107 Knowledge Test (65 Questions Answered & Explained) (4 pages)

·         TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) (1 page)

·         What Type of Criminal Punishment (Prison Time) or Fines can Result for a TFR Violation? (1 page)

·         8 Different TFRs – Flight Restrictions for Good Reason (1 page)

·         FAA Part 107 Waiver (COA) – What Drone Pilots Need to Know (1 page)

·         What Do I Do After I Crash My Drone? (1 page)

·         How to Fly Your Drone at Night-(Part 107 Night Waiver from 107.29)

·         More Part 107 Test Questions for Remote Pilot Knowledge Test (22 Super Hard Practice Questions)

Things you should NOT Read in Entirety but ONLY the relevant sections I list or ctrl +f the term in the document for the relevant sections. (The AC00-06, AIM, RMH, PHAK points came from the Knowledge Test Guide Pages 12-16)

Aeronautical Chart User’s GuideAeronautical Chart User’s Guide (21 pages)

·         Pages 13-44

AC 00-6  (200 Pages)Aviation Weather  (42 Pages)

·         Thunderstorms (19-1 through 19-11)  (11 Pages)

·         Winds / Currents (Chapter 7 – 6 pages) (Chapter 9 – 9 pages) (Chapter 10 – 9 pages).

·         Density Altitude (Sections 5.3 through 5.5 – 6 pages).

·         Effects – Temperature (Pages 5-10 through 5-12 already covered)

·         Effects – Frost Formation (Section 22-4  – 1 page)

·         Effects – Air Masses and Fronts (Section 10-1 through 10-8  – already covered)

AC 00-45 – Aviation Weather ServicesAviation Weather Services (17 pages)

·         Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAF) (Pages 5-75 through 5-92 – 17 pages)

·         Thunderstorms

AIM Aeronautical Information Manual (54 pages)

·         General Airspace (3-1-1 through 3-5-10  – 26 pages)

·         Authorization for Certain Airspace

·         Airport Operations (4-3-1 through 4-3-4  –  4 pages)

·         Aeronautical Charts (9-1-1 through 9-1-4 Don’t read past Caribbean VFR aeronautical charts.  – 3 pages)

·         Radio Communications – Non-towered & Towered  (4-2-1 through  4-2-8  6 pages)

·         Traffic Patterns

·         Traffic Advisory Services

·         Phonetic Alphabet

·         Scanning / See and Avoid  (4−4−14 & 8−1−6   –  4 pages)

·         NOTAMs (5−1−3  –  6 pages)

·         Temporary Flight Restrictions (3−5−3 Overlap)

·         Hyperventilation (8−1−3  – 1 page)

·         MOA (3−4−5  Overlap)

·         Sources – Weather Briefings / Sources (7−1−2   –  1 page)

·         Prescription and OTC Medications  (8−1−2   –  3 pages)

FAA-H-8083-2Risk Management Handbook

·         Situational Awareness (2 pages)

FAA-H-8083-25Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (77 Pages)

·         Loading/Performance –  Balance, Stability, Center of Gravity (Pages 5-33 through 5-43  – 11 pages)

·         Aeronautical Decision Making – Crew Resource Management (Pages 2-4 through 2-32  29 Pages)

·         Aviation Routine Weather Reports (METAR) (13-6 through 13-8  – 3 pages)

·         Military Training Routes

·         Other Airspace Areas (15-4 through 15-7 – 4 Pages)

·         Reading a Chart

·         Aeronautical Charts (14-3, 16-2 through 16-7 – 7 pages)

·         Informational Sources (1-9 through 1-12  4 pages)

·         Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAF) (13-9 – 1 page)

·         Hazardous Attitude (Page 2-4  through 2-6    –    4 Pages)

·         Crew Resource Management  (G-8  – 1 page)

·         Situational Awareness  (2-22  1 page)

·         Effective Scanning  (17-23   1 page)

·         Drugs and Alcohol  (17-15 through 17-18   – 4 pages)

·         Effects – Atmospheric Stability and Pressure   (12-12  through 12-17  – 6 pages)

·         Effects – Temperature

·         Weather Briefings / Sources  (13-5  1 page)

·         Prescription and OTC Medications

FAA-CT-8080-2HAirman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Sport Pilot, Recreational Pilot, and Private Pilot

·         Know how to use the two legends. Pages 1-19. This supplement will be provided to you when you take the test. If they do not, ask for it. Read Page 7 of this FAA document for proof.

·         Know all the terms in Figure 1. (Look these terms up in the PHAK)

·         Figure 2 – Know how to use.

·         Figure 12- Decode these and study them. You should know how to read these for the real world, not just memorize these so you can pass the test.

·         Figure 13 – You should read over this and know what information is important for you as a drone pilot and what is not.

·         Figure 15 – This is important to know so you can plan operations.

·         Figure 55 – Picture 3 and 7.  This is how pilots dance at parties. After the party, if you ever have a flag and you need to hide it so it doesn’t get stolen at an airport, a great place to hide it is under the tail of an airplane. See Picture 4.

·         Study Figure 20-26, 59, 69-71, 74-76, 78, 80

·         Decode 31, 52, 63, 77, 79, 81,

 

Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Taking Tips:

A bunch of the questions on your test will be answered right by the legend in the supplement. You CAN refer to this while in the test. Make sure the test proctor gives you the correct one that is up to date prior to going into the test. I heard one horror story where the person had an old one so the questions didn’t match up. Make sure you have a current one!

Go with the “spirit of the question,” not the letter of the question. Try and figure out what the FAA is trying to test you on. Remember that these questions were most likely created very hastily and do not make perfect sense. When I took the test, I remember a few questions that looked like they were written by someone who was up at 2AM trying to crank out tons of questions. If you are stumped, then ask yourself, “What is the guy up at 2AM in the morning trying to test me on?”

Always keep in mind how the answers can answer OTHER questions. If you don’t know the answer, or eliminate the wrong ones, keep moving on. Sometimes the questions and answers further down will provide you the answers to the one you are having trouble with. When I took the test, I noticed that there were two questions that were very similar in topic. One of the questions had two really dumb answers which basically gave away the correct answer. If you knew nothing about the topic, just using common sense to eliminate the two bad answer, you could have used the correct answer to answer the first question.

Brain dump everything immediately onto your scrap paper when you start the test. You want to write down everything you think you will forget on the scrap piece of paper. Just dump it all out and any pictures and diagrams you have up in your head.

Try and answer the question BEFORE you read the answers so you don’t get tricked. The FAA likes to create answers where one is a slight “one-off” from the correct answer. By reading the answers, you can introduce doubt. For example, Federal Aviation Administration or Federal Aviation Agency? Which is it? They both seem like good answers.  Is it MSL or AGL?

Eliminate the wrong answers. If you can’t find the correct answer, find the wrong ones.

Read the test question AND answers carefully. I cannot over emphasize this.

Sleep and eat well. I would just sleep 8-10 hours. Take the test around 10AM-12PM. This way you aren’t rushed and can miss rush hour traffic as you drive there. When I was in law school (3-4hour exams) and taking the Florida bar exam (2 full 8 hour days), I had to make sure my body wouldn’t go out on me. I would eat very greasy foods right before I would go in so I wouldn’t be hungry while I would take a Kombucha vitamin B shot right. Check with your doctor to make sure this is ok with you. The vitamin B would start metabolizing by the time I took the test or started answering questions.

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Knowledge Test Study Guide

If you need help calculating when you need to take your test by, see my article on 107.65 Aeronautical Knowledge Recency. 

Game Plan:

Step 1. Read all the steps. Understand this is for the recurrent exam, NOT the initial exam. That is another study guide on my website.

Step 2. Figure out when you need to take the test by. See the section below talking about when aeronautical knowledge currency expires.

Step 3. Sign up for the test. Instructions on signing up for the test is here. You should pick a date based upon how much time you have in relation to how much material you need to go through. You are looking at around 335 pages of material you need to read. Yes, I know there are only 138 pages in THIS document. I reference pages in other documents below.

Step 4. Learn about the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) and read over the Part 107 ACS.

Step 5. Start studying the material below based upon what was listed in the ACS regarding the recurrent knowledge exam.

Step 6. Once you are done or feel competent. Take the test of 40 sample questions. For your deficient areas, go over those particular areas in the ACS. All 40 questions are answered and explained in this document in the back. Keep in mind that some of those questions are on things that won’t be on the recurrent exam such as weather. You might want to skip those questions or take a crack at it to see if your knowledge is still good.

Step 7. In the final stretch of time, study Area I (the regulations) and Area II (airspace & chart reading) from the ACS since both of those areas will make up 60-80% of the test. Maybe go through the 107 regulations paid video course at Rupprecht Drones with 100+ questions?

 

Helpful Comparison Tables Between the Initial and Recurrent Knowledge Tests

Not everything is on the recurrent knowledge exam like it was with the initial. Here is a table I created for the online video training course on Part 107 being sold over at Rupprecht Drones.

initial versus recurrent remote pilot (aka drone license) test

The percentages of questions on topics have changed also.

Let’s dive into the three areas to see what is covered.  All of Area I (Regulations) and Area II (Airspace & Requirements) are on the recurrent exam. Nothing from Area III (Weather) or Area IV (Loading & Performance) is on the exam.

Area V (Operations) is mixed.

A. Radio Communications ProceduresNOT on Test
B. Airport OperationsOn Test
C. Emergency ProceduresOn Test
D. Aeronautical Decision-MakingOn Test
E. PhysiologyNOT on Test
F. Maintenance and Inspection ProceduresOn Test

 

Tips For While You Are Studying

  • You will be able to take the test with the Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Sport Pilot, Recreational Pilot, and Private Pilot which is a great resource. The test center should provide you a copy. You can’t bring your own. There are two reasons why you should look over this supplement and know what is in it: (1) there are helpful legends which will be great for answering sectional map questions and (2) many questions on the test will reference some of the figures in this supplement. At the end of your studying you should skim through and ask yourself questions based upon the numbered areas on the sectional charts.
  • See a term you don’t know in the ACS? Look up the term in the index of the PHAK and/or Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) which will tell you where to find more information.
  • Hit ctrl + f and type in the word to search through the PDF rapidly.

 

Free Material to Start Studying

Disclaimer:  You aren’t guaranteed to pass the test based off this material.

The FAA compiled a list of references in the final ACS and FAA study guide. Unfortunately, they did not include everything you need or would find helpful. Below I have included the extra items that the FAA should have included, which are in the bold text.

I find it interesting the FAA did not note anything about Part 830 (except for one small reference in a PLT code) or the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). Both of those programs are focused on safety while the FAA’s accident reporting requirement in Part 107 is focused on safety and enforcement.  A pilot needs to know both of these programs. I find it also interesting the FAA didn’t mention anything about the NASA ASRS which is there for the pilot’s benefit, not the FAA’s, regarding enforcement actions.  Let that sink in for a second. This shows the importance of why you need to have a good aviation attorney in your corner to look after you, as the FAA won’t. Read What Do I Do After I Crash My Drone?

The total number of regulations and pages is very large. I chopped it up into what pieces of material you should know in entirety and what you should pick pieces and parts of based upon the ACS.

The recurrent knowledge exam will be 40 questions and you will have 1.5 hours to complete it. The minimum passing score is 70% which is a maximum of 12 questions wrong or a minimum of 28 questions right.

If there are any errors or broken links in here, for the greater good of everyone studying, let me know so I can correct it.

Reference

Title

Articles I wrote that will help you understand some of the areas you need to know for the test. (12 webpages total)
·         Part 107 (ACS) Airmen Certification Standards Explained (2 pages)

·         Part 107 Knowledge Test (65Questions Answered & Explained) (4 pages)

·         TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) (1 page)

·         What Type of Criminal Punishment (Prison Time) or Fines can Result for a TFR Violation? (1 page)

·         8 Different TFRs – Flight Restrictions for Good Reason (1 page)

·         FAA Part 107 Waiver (COA) – What Drone Pilots Need to Know (1 page)

·         What Do I Do After I Crash My Drone? (1 page)

·         How to Fly Your Drone at Night-(Part 107 Night Waiver from 107.29)

·         More Part 107 Test Questions for Remote Pilot Knowledge Test (22 Super Hard Practice Questions)

Area I (Regulations)- Read Entirely

14 CFR Part 45 (Subpart A & C)Identification and Registration Marking
14 CFR part 47 Aircraft Registration
14 CFR part 48Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
14 CFR part 71Designation of Class A, B, C, D and E Airspace Areas; Air Traffic Service Routes; and Reporting Points
14 CFR part 73 [this should have been in there]SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE (Restricted and Prohibited Airspace).
14 CFR Part 91 Sections Referenced in Part 107.Sections:

·         91.17 Alcohol or Drugs

·         91.19 Carriage of narcotic drugs, marihuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances.

·         91.137 Temporary flight restrictions in the vicinity of disaster/hazard areas.

·         91.138 Temporary flight restrictions in national disaster areas in the State of Hawaii.

·         91.139 Emergency air traffic rules.

·         91.141 Flight restrictions in the proximity of the Presidential and other parties.

·         91.143 Flight limitation in the proximity of space flight operations.

·         91.144   Temporary restriction on flight operations during abnormally high barometric pressure conditions.

·         91.145 Management of aircraft operations in the vicinity of aerial demonstrations and major sporting events.

·         91.203(a)(2) Civil aircraft: Certifications required.

14 CFR 99.7§ 99.7 Special security instructions.
14 CFR Part 101 Subpart ESubpart E—Special Rule for Model Aircraft
14 CFR Part 107Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
49 CFR Part 830Notification And Reporting Of Aircraft Accidents Or Incidents And Overdue Aircraft, And Preservation Of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail, Cargo, And Records

Area II. (Airspace Classification and Operating Requirements) & Area V (Operations)

Aeronautical Chart User’s GuideAeronautical Chart User’s Guide (21 pages)

Pages 13-44

SAFO 15010 (2 Pages)Carriage of Spare Lithium Batteries in Carry-on and Checked Baggage
SAFO 10015 (1 Page and 23 minute video)Flying in the wire environment
SAFO 10017 (3 Pages)Risks in Transporting Lithium Batteries in Cargo by Aircraft
SAFO 09013 (1 Page and a 10.5 minute Video)Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices
AC 150/5200-32 (11 Pages)Reporting Wildlife Aircraft Strikes
AC 107-2  (53 Pages)Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
FAA-S-ACS-10 (33 Pages)Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standards
FAA-G-8082-22 (87 Pages)Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide
FAA-G-8082-20 (17 Pages)Remote Pilot Knowledge Test Guide

Things you should NOT Read in Entirety but ONLY the relevant sections I list or ctrl +f the term in the document for the relevant sections. (The AC00-06, AIM, RMH, PHAK points came from the Knowledge Test Guide Pages 12-16)

AIM Aeronautical Information Manual

·         General Airspace (3-1-1 through 3-5-10  – 26 pages)

·         Authorization for Certain Airspace

·         Airport Operations (4-3-1 through 4-3-4  –  4 pages)

·         Aeronautical Charts (9-1-1 through 9-1-4 Don’t read past Caribbean VFR aeronautical charts.  – 3 pages)

·         Traffic Patterns

·         Scanning / See and Avoid  (4−4−14 & 8−1−6   –  4 pages)

·         NOTAMs (5−1−3  –  6 pages)

·         Temporary Flight Restrictions (3−5−3 Overlap)

·         MOA (3−4−5  Overlap)

FAA-H-8083-2Risk Management Handbook

·         Situational Awareness (2 pages)

FAA-H-8083-25Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

·         Aeronautical Decision Making – Crew Resource Management (Pages 2-4 through 2-32  29 Pages)

·         Military Training Routes

·         Other Airspace Areas (15-4 through 15-7 – 4 Pages)

·         Reading a Chart

·         Aeronautical Charts (14-3, 16-2 through 16-7 – 7 pages)

·         Informational Sources (1-9 through 1-12  4 pages)

·         Hazardous Attitude (Page 2-4  through 2-6    –    4 Pages)

·         Crew Resource Management  (G-8  – 1 page)

·         Situational Awareness  (2-22  1 page)

·         Effective Scanning  (17-23   1 page)

FAA-CT-8080-2HAirman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Sport Pilot, Recreational Pilot, and Private Pilot

·         Know how to use the two legends. Pages 1-19. This supplement will be provided to you when you take the test. If they do not, ask for it. Read Page 7 of this FAA document for proof.

·         Know all the terms in Figure 1. (Look these terms up in the PHAK)

·         Figure 2 – Know how to use.

·         Figure 12- Decode these and study them. You should know how to read these for the real world, not just memorize these so you can pass the test.

·         Figure 13 – You should read over this and know what information is important for you as a drone pilot and what is not.

·         Figure 15 – This is important to know so you can plan operations.

·         Figure 55 – Picture 3 and 7.  This is how pilots dance at parties. After the party, if you ever have a flag and you need to hide it so it doesn’t get stolen at an airport, a great place to hide it is under the tail of an airplane. See Picture 4.

·         Study Figure 20-26, 59, 69-71, 74-76, 78, 80

·         Decode 31, 52, 63, 77, 79, 81,

TEST TAKING TIPS

  • USE THE SUPPLEMENT LEGEND! A bunch of the questions on your test will be answered right by the legend in the supplement. You CAN refer to this while in the test. Make sure the test proctor gives you the correct one that is up to date prior to going into the test. I heard of one horror story where the person had an old one so the questions didn’t match up. Make sure you have a current one!
  • Go with the “spirit of the question,” not the letter of the question. Try and figure out what the FAA is trying to test you on. When I took the test, I remember a few questions that looked like they were written by someone who was up at 2AM trying to crank out tons of questions. If you are stumped, then ask yourself, “What is the guy up at 2AM in the morning trying to test me on?”
  • Always keep in mind how the answers can answer OTHER questions. If you don’t know the answer, or eliminate the wrong ones, keep moving on. Sometimes the questions and answers further down will provide you the answers to the one you are having trouble with. When I took the test, I noticed that there were two questions that were very similar in topic. One of the questions had two really dumb answers which basically gave away the correct answer. If you knew nothing about the topic, just using common sense to eliminate the two bad answer, you could have used the correct answer to answer the first question.
  • Brain dump everything immediately onto your scrap paper when you start the test. You want to write down everything you think you will forget on the scrap piece of paper. Just dump it all out and any pictures and diagrams you have up in your head.
  • Try and answer the question BEFORE you read the answers so you don’t get tricked. The FAA likes to create answers where one is a slight “one-off” from the correct answer. By reading the answers, you can introduce doubt. For example, Federal Aviation Administration or Federal Aviation Agency? Which is it? They both seem like good answers.  Is it MSL or AGL?
  • Eliminate the wrong answers. You don’t have to always find the correct answer, just the wrong ones.
  • Read the test question AND answers carefully. I cannot over emphasize this.
  • Sleep and eat well. I would just sleep 8-10 hours. Take the test around 10AM-12PM. This way you aren’t rushed and can miss rush hour traffic as you drive there.

Having Trouble Learning the Material?

All the material you need to pass the remote pilot knowledge exam is in this page.  To help speed up the learning process, I’ve been creating online training courses for the sister company Rupprecht Drones. Some people want to learn quicker or don’t have to read so I created online courses to meet their needs that are on Rupprecht Drones. I’m planning on creating many more online courses to help individuals quickly learn the material for the remote pilot knowledge exam so frequently check in. These courses also are great for company training and recurrent training to keep the pilots and crew proficient. The courses on Rupprecht Drones are:

Part 107 Regulations Online Training Course (test prep, waiver compliance, recurrent training, etc.)  40 videos and 35 quizzes totaling to over 100 questions for the entire course!

Night Operations Online Training Course for the Night Waiver. This is the training needed to fly under the Part 107-night waiver. It consists of 8 videos and 8 quizzes. If you pass it, you print out the certificate and keep it for your records in case the FAA audits you.

This is Part of a Part 107 Series of Articles.


Section 107.73 Initial and recurrent knowledge test. (2019)

part-107-intial-and-recurrent-knowledge-test

Are you interested in the Part 107 initial or recurrent knowledge test?

In this article we will discuss (1) the Part 107 initial knowledge test, (2) the Part 107 recurrent knowledge test, (3) the differences between both tests, (4) practice Part 107 initial and recurrent knowledge test, (5) actual language from 107.73, and (6) the FAA’s commentary on knowledge tests from the preamble to the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule.

This article on the initial and recurrent knowledge test is part of an overall set of articles on each of the Part 107 drone regulations. Use these links below for navigation between the regulation pages.

Previous Regulation (107.71)Back to Drone Regulations DirectoryNext Regulation (107.74)

Table of Contents:

Part 107 Initial Knowledge Test

If you want to fly commercial in the United States, you’ll most likely be flying under Part 107 which requires a remote pilot certificate. To obtain for the first time a remote pilot certificate, you’ll need to take and pass a Part 107 initial knowledge test. If you are a current Part 61 certificated manned pilot, you have an option of going another method. See my step-by-step instructions page on how to obtain your remote pilot certificate.

The Part 107 initial knowledge test contains 60 questions and you have 120 minutes to take it. The subject areas on the exam are: (1) regulations, (2) airspace, (3) weather, (4) loading and performance, and (5) operations. You’ll need to pass the exam with a score of 70% or higher.

Part 107 Recurrent Knowledge Test

Individuals who have obtained their remote pilot certificates have to maintain their aeronautical knowledge currency by doing 1 of 3 methods. Section 107.65 says, 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.”

One of the methods is to take the Part 107 recurrent knowledge test. This article is focused specifically on the initial and recurrent knowledge test. I have addressed elsewhere other issues like:

The recurrent knowledge test consists of 40 questions. You have 1.5 hours to take the exam. The subject areas consist of regulations, airspace, and operations.

Differences Between the Initial & Recurrent Knowledge Test

The initial has 60 questions while the recurrent knowledge test has 40 questions.

The initial gives you 120 minutes while the recurrent knowledge test is 80 minutes.

Since the number of questions decreased and also the number of subjects tested with the recurrent knowledge test, this might cause confusion as to how to spend your time studying. There are two ways at looking at how you should focus your time: (1) comparing using the airmen certification standards and (2) using the actual subject areas of the regulations.

Comparison Using the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS)

Here is a table I created comparing the initial to the recurrent knowledge test using the ACS.

Please note that while Area I and Area II are being tested completely, in the recurrent knowledge exam, tasks  A. Radio Communications Procedures and E. Physiology are not tested so it’s really not ALL of Area V.

Comparison Using the Regulations

Another way of determining how to spend your time studying is looking at what the FAA really wants you to know based upon what the regulations specifically list. Section 107.73 and 107.74 list out specific areas.

Remember that the current manned pilots aircraft pilots have another way of getting current. They can take the online training courses. I took the topics from the initial and recurrent knowledge test and the topics from the initial and recurrent online training course and compared them in a table below.

 

initial versus recurrent remote pilot (aka drone license) test

The FAA is really emphasizing the first 4 subjects. You should know those areas like the back of your hand.

The 5th, 6th, and 7th lines also give you a clue that you MUST know that if you are going for an initial or recurrent knowledge test.

Part 107 Initial Knowledge Practice Test Questions

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Part 107 Recurrent Knowledge Test Practice Questions

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