Section 107.61 Eligibility.
Subject to the provisions of §§107.57 and 107.59, in order to be eligible for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating under this subpart, a person must:
(a) Be at least 16 years of age;
(b) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, the FAA may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the small unmanned aircraft;
(c) Not know or have reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small unmanned aircraft system; and
(d) Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by satisfying one of the following conditions:
(1) Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in §107.73(a); or
(2) 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, complete an initial training course covering the areas of knowledge specified in §107.74(a) in a manner acceptable to the Administrator.
My Commentary on Section 107.61 Eligibility.
Eligibility. A person applying for a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must
meet and maintain the following eligibility requirements, as applicable:
• Be at least 16 years of age.
• Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. However, the
FAA may make an exception if the person is unable to meet one of these
requirements due to medical reasons, such as a hearing impairment.
• Be in a physical and mental condition that would not interfere with the safe operation
of an sUAS.
• Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing
center (KTC). However, a person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under
14 CFR part 61, except a student pilot certificate, and has successfully completed a
flight review in accordance with part 61 within the previous 24 calendar-months is
only required to successfully complete a part 107 online training course, found at
www.faasafety.gov. For more information concerning aeronautical knowledge tests
and training, see paragraph 6.6.
Application Process. This paragraph provides guidance on how a person can apply for a
remote pilot certificate.
6.4.1 Applicants Without Part 61 Certificates. A person who does not have a part 61 pilot
certificate or a part 61 certificate holder who has not completed a part 61 flight review in
the previous 24 calendar-months must use the following process. A part 61 pilot who has
completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may elect to use this
1. Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test administered at a KTC (see
2. Complete the Remote Pilot Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote
pilot certificate (FAA Form 8710-13).
• Option 1 (Online Form): This is the fastest and simplest method. The
FAA Form 8710-13 application should be completed online using the electronic
FAA Integrated Airmen Certificate and/or Rating Application (IACRA) system
(https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/). The applicant must have already passed an initial
aeronautical knowledge test. Once registered with IACRA, he or she will login
with their username and password. Click on “Start New Application” and,
1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot,” 3) “Other Path
Information,” and 4) “Start Application.” Continue through the application
process and, when prompted, the applicant will enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test
Exam ID from the knowledge test in IACRA. It may take up to 48 hours from the
test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA. The KTC test proctor will be
the one that verified the identity of the applicant. Once the applicant completes
the online application in IACRA, he or she will sign the application electronically
and submit it to the Airman Registry for processing. No FAA representative will
be required to sign the application if the applicant was able to self-certify.
Note: When the applicant uses this online option, the application will be
transmitted electronically from the applicant to the Airman Registry. The
only electronic signature that will be reflected on the IACRA application
will be the applicant’s. The applicant will then receive a confirmation
email once his or her application has completed the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) vetting process. The email will provide
information that will allow the applicant to log into the IACRA system
and print a copy of the temporary certificate.
• Option 2 (Paper Application): An applicant could also submit a paper
application. If the applicant chooses the paper method, the original initial
aeronautical knowledge test report must be mailed with the application to the
Airmen Certification Branch (AFS-760)
P.O. Box 25082
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
Note: A temporary airman certificate will not be provided to the remote
pilot applicant if they do not hold a part 61 certificate. For this reason, it
would be of the applicant’s best interest to utilize Option 1 (IACRA
system) instead of the paper method, in order to receive a temporary
airman certificate once the application has completed the TSA vetting
3. Receive permanent remote pilot certificate once all other FAA internal
processing is complete.
6.4.2 Applicants with Part 61 Certificates. Instead of the process described above, a person
who holds a part 61 pilot certificate, except a student pilot certificate, and has completed
a flight review within the previous 24 calendar-months may elect to apply using the
1. Complete the online course (Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
(sUAS), ALC-451) located within the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam)
Web site (www.faasafety.gov) and receive a completion certificate.
2. Complete the Remote Pilot Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote
pilot certificate (FAA Form 8710-13).
• Option 1 (Online Application): In almost all cases, the application should be
completed online using the electronic FAA IACRA system
(https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/). The applicant must include verification that he or she
completed the online course or passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test. The
applicable official document(s) must be uploaded into IACRA either by the
applicant or the certifying officer.
• Option 2 (Paper): The application may be completed on paper. Using this
method, the certificate of completion for the online course or original initial
aeronautical knowledge test report must be included with the application. Please
note that the processing time will be increased if a paper application is used.
3. Contact a FSDO, an FAA DPE, an ACR, or an FAA CFI to make an
appointment to validate the applicant’s identification. The applicant must
present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online course
completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of a
current flight review. The FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by
the applicant after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines the applicant’s
photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity. The FAA
representative will then sign the application. The identification presented must
include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the
applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address).
This information may be presented in more than one form of identification.
Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to
U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military
identification cards (refer to AC 61-65). If using paper or IACRA method, an
appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will issue the applicant a
temporary airman certificate.
Note: A CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate. They can
process applications for applicants who do not need a temporary certificate. If
using IACRA and the applicant is utilizing a CFI as the FAA representative,
the applicant can print their own temporary airman certificate after receiving an
email from the FAA notifying them that it is available. If using the paper
method and the applicant is utilizing a CFI as the FAA representative, the
applicant will not be issued a temporary airman certificate. Once the FSDO has
signed and approved the application, it will be mailed to the Registry for the
issuance of the permanent certificate.
4. Receive permanent remote pilot certificate once all other FAA internal
processing is complete.
6.5 Security Disqualification. After the FAA receives the application, the TSA will
automatically conduct a background security screening of the applicant prior to issuance
of a remote pilot certificate. If the security screening is successful, the FAA will issue a
permanent remote pilot certificate. If the security screening is not successful, the
applicant will be disqualified and a temporary pilot certificate will not be issued.
Individuals who believe that they improperly failed a security threat assessment may
appeal the decision to the TSA.
6.6 Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and
retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UA in the NAS. This aeronautical
knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an
in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard
(https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/) that provides the necessary reference
Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests
apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate.
6.6.1 Initial Test. As described in paragraph 6.4, a person applying for remote pilot certificate
with an sUAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given by an
FAA-approved KTC. The initial knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge
areas listed below:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and
2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions
affecting small UA operation;
3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small UA performance;
4. Small UA loading and performance;
5. Emergency procedures;
6. Crew Resource Management (CRM);
7. Radio communication procedures;
8. Determining the performance of small UA;
9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;
10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment;
11. Airport operations; and
12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.
184.108.40.206 A part 61 certificate holder who has completed a flight review within the
previous 24 calendar-months may complete an initial online training course
instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7).
220.127.116.11 Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can be
found in Appendix B.
6.6.2 Recurrent Test. After a person receives a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating,
that person must retain and periodically update the required aeronautical knowledge to
continue to operate a small UA in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a
remote pilot certificate, the certificate holder must pass a recurrent aeronautical
knowledge test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent
aeronautical knowledge test. A part 61 pilot certificate holder who has completed a flight
review within the previous 24 calendar-months may complete a recurrent online training
course instead of taking the knowledge test.
The NPRM proposed establishing eligibility requirements for a part 107 airman
certificate and specifying when a certificate would be issued. The NPRM proposed that an
applicant must be: (1) at least 17 years of age; (2) able to read, speak, write and understand
the English language; and (3) vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
Additionally, the NPRM proposed that the applicant must pass an initial aeronautical
knowledge test and self-certify, at the time of application, that he or she does not have a
medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
As discussed in more detail below, the process for issuance of a remote pilot
certificate will be as follows. First, an applicant will have to take and pass an initial
aeronautical knowledge test. After taking the knowledge test, the applicant will be provided
with an airman knowledge test report showing his or her test results. If the applicant passed
the test, the applicant will then fill out an application for a remote pilot certificate using
either the FAA’s electronic application process (referred to as the Integrated Airman
Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system) or a paper application. The FAA
will then forward the applicant’s information to the TSA for security vetting to determine
whether the applicant poses a security risk. Once TSA notifies the FAA that the applicant
does not pose a security risk the FAA will issue an electronic temporary remote pilot
certificate to an applicant who applied through the IACRA system.128 This temporary
certificate (valid for 120 days after receipt) will be issued within 10 business days after
receipt of an electronic application, and it will allow the applicant to exercise all the
privileges of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. Once all other FAAinternal
processing is complete, the FAA will issue the applicant a permanent remote pilot
Holders of a part 61 pilot certificate other than student pilot who have completed a
flight review within the previous 24 months will have the option of a different certification
process. These pilot certificate holders will be allowed to substitute completion of an online
training course for the small UAS aeronautical knowledge test. Upon completion of the
training course, the part 61 pilot certificate holder will then go to one of the following
authorized portals: an FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), a designated pilot
examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR) for a pilot school, or a
certificated flight instructor (CFI). The certificate holder will provide his or her remote
pilot certificate application and supporting documentation to that portal to verify the
applicant’s identity, fill out the pertinent portion of the application, and then forward the
completed application to the FAA Airman Certification Registry. Because a part 61 pilot
certificate holder has already been vetted by TSA, he or she will be issued a temporary
remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, valid for 120 days, immediately upon the
FAA’s receipt of the completed application via IACRA. Once all other processing is
complete, the FAA will issue a permanent remote pilot certificate.
The FAA emphasizes that part 61 pilot certificate holders are not required to use the
process discussed in the previous paragraph and can instead apply for a remote pilot
certificate by taking the small UAS initial aeronautical knowledge test. Part 61 pilot
certificate holders who pass the knowledge test will not be required to submit their
application to a FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI. Instead these certificate holders may submit
their applications via IACRA. Because these certificate holders have already been vetted
by TSA, they will be issued a temporary remote pilot certificate, valid for 120 days, upon
FAA’s receipt of their application via IACRA regardless of the method they use to qualify
for the certificate (i.e. knowledge test or online training course).
a. Minimum Age
The NPRM proposed that a person must be at least 17 years of age to be eligible for
a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating. This minimum age would be
consistent with existing FAA minimum age requirements for the sport pilot, recreational
pilot, and private pilot airman certificates with an airplane or rotorcraft rating. The FAA
also invited comment on whether to adopt a minimum age of 16 years, which would be
consistent with existing FAA minimum age requirements for the sport pilot and private
pilot airman certificates with a glider or balloon rating. After review of the comments, the
FAA adopts a minimum age of 16 for a person to be eligible for a remote pilot certificate
with a small UAS rating.
Fourteen commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, AUVSI, and NAMIC,
all agreed that the proposed minimum age of 17 generally strikes an appropriate balance
between safety and operational viability for low risk small UAS operations, ensuring that
baseline safety is enhanced without unduly burdening low risk small UAS operators or
their operations. These commenters argued that the NPRM’s proposal is consistent with the
requirements for other pilot certificates and, at this time, there is a lack of data and
evidence to support lowering the age to 16. The commenters added that although persons
under the age of 17 are already allowed to operate model aircraft, it is unclear if there is a
strong need for allowing younger remote pilots to operate non-hobby and non-recreational
University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences added
that 16-year-old student pilots are accompanied or monitored by an instructor, whereas, a
small UAS operator would effectively be unmonitored. Federal Airways & Airspace also
agreed with limiting the certification age to 17 years old, and pointed out that the National
Institute of Mental Health has stated on their website that the rate of death by any injury of
those aged 15 to 19 years old is six times higher than that for individuals aged 10 to 14
years old. Federal Airways & Airspace also mentioned that studies have shown that the
human brain does not reach maturity until the early 20s, and the CDC states that those aged
16 to 19 are almost three times more likely than 20-year-olds to be in a fatal motor vehicle
Several commenters recommended raising the minimum age above 17.
Commenters including the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Textron
Systems, and Aerius Flight, recommended an 18-year-old eligibility requirement for small
UAS operators, because it aligns with existing airman certification standards for other
commercial flight operations. One commenter asserted that 18 is the appropriate age for an
operator certificate because it is the age at which an individual is an adult and able to enter
into legally binding contracts. The Air Line Pilots Association and Transportation Trades
Department, AFL-CIO said small UAS operators should hold a commercial pilot
certificate, and should therefore be a minimum of 18 years old. Several commenters
recommended the minimum age requirement be raised even higher, to 21 or 25 years old.
Conversely, 36 commenters, including NBAA, AIA, and the Kansas Farm Bureau,
argued that the minimum age should be lowered to 16. One commenter asserted that: (1)
flying a manned aircraft is considerably more complex than operating a small UAS; and (2)
a small UAS has no people on board who would be injured in the event of an accident.
Many other individuals argued that because of all the operating constraints contemplated
by the NPRM, a 16-year-old should be able to safely operate a small UAS without
exposing anyone to undue risk.
Nine commenters asserted that a minimum age of 16 would also align with current
requirements for glider and balloon pilots. One commenter argued that the NPRM does not
provide any justification to support why the operator of a small UAS must be older than a
sport pilot, recreational pilot, or private pilot airman with a glider rating,129 or a student
pilot of a glider.130 NBAA stated its belief that a lesser risk exists for small UAS operations
conducted within the confines of the rule when compared to glider and balloon operations
conducted within controlled airspace.
One of the commenters from the Center for Information & Research on Civic
Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) argued that the minimum age should be dropped to
16. The commenter conducted research that it claimed supports the proposition that 16-
year-olds have the same capacity for sophistication as 21-year-olds. Although the research
is geared towards younger individuals voting in local elections, not operating aircraft, the
commenter believed that it makes a general statement about the intellectual capacity of
minors at the age of 16.
Prioria Robotics argued that the FAA should allow an apprenticeship-like certificate
to be held by those younger than 18. Others argued that the minimum age for independent
operation of a small UAS should be 16. One individual suggested that if the operator is
under the age of 16, he or she should be required to be accompanied by a qualified operator
who is over the age of 18.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, Aviation Division suggested
that, with regard to minimum age, in many cases the maturity level difference of an
operator between ages 16 and 18 may be imperceptible. This commenter suggested
lowering the minimum age to 16 would rule out the likelihood of willful underage violation
and provide a legal path forward for younger operators. The commenter also pointed out
that in many states a driver’s permit can be obtained at age 15 and driver’s license at age
The Kansas Farm Bureau also argued that the added year available for academic
use, education, and experience are positives for future UAS operators. DJI similarly noted
that a lower age limit could increase academic use of small UAS because more high school
age students could be operators. Also, commenters argued that a high age limit would
inhibit curiosity and innovation among younger people who are exploring the capabilities
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association did not object to the proposed minimum age
requirement, but noted potential value in reducing the minimum age to 16 years old. The
commenter noted that, while this approach would be a slight deviation from the current age
requirement for non-commercial airman certificates, it would be consistent with the
recognized lower risk associated with small UAS operations. The commenter also noted it
would accommodate UAS operations for those beef producers who run family operations,
many of which include older teenagers.
The FAA agrees that a certain level of maturity is required to operate any aircraft
responsibly in the NAS. The FAA originally proposed a minimum age of 17 because it is
consistent with existing FAA minimum age requirements for the sport pilot, recreational
pilot, and private pilot airman certificates with an airplane or rotorcraft rating—the baselevel
certificates authorizing pilots to operate these two categories of aircraft while not
under the supervision of an instructor. However, the FAA does not use a minimum age of
17 for all part 61 pilot certificates. As noted in the NPRM and by the commenters, the
proposed minimum age of 17 is not consistent with existing FAA minimum age eligibility
requirements for sport and private pilot airman certificates with a glider or balloon rating.
After further consideration, the FAA has determined that the risk posed by a small
UAS operation is comparable to the risk posed by a glider or balloon operation. Balloon
and glider operations generally take place during daytime visual meteorological conditions
and are limited to a relatively confined geographical area. Balloon and glider aircraft also
tend to be lighter and slower-moving aircraft, limiting the harm to people and property on
the ground in the event of a mishap. Similarly, small UAS operations do not take place at
night or in instrument meteorological conditions, and are operated in a limited geographical
area as necessary for the remote pilot to maintain visual line of sight. Analysis of safety
data for balloon and glider operations suggests that there is no significant difference in
accident rates for 16-year-old pilots compared to 17- or 18-year-old pilots. Because the risk
of a part 107 small UAS operation is comparable to the risk of a balloon or glider operation
and because the minimum age for glider and balloon operations is 16,131 the FAA will
lower the minimum age in this rule to 16 years old.
The FAA also notes that a minimum age of 16 is consistent with its current practice
of allowing airmen conducting a small UAS operation under a section 333 exemption to
hold a sport or private pilot certificate with a glider or balloon rating. Although the FAA
does not track the age of persons operating small unmanned aircraft under section 333
exemption grants, the agency is not aware of any specific safety concerns associated with
16-year-old private pilots or sport pilots operating small UAS. The FAA notes that
lowering the minimum age to 16 will also enable additional small UAS agricultural
operations, such as those described by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.
Several commenters, including AIA, the Virginia Commonwealth University
Honors Students, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology suggested that the minimum
age should be no greater than 16. As noted in AIA comments, AIA and others believe that
a driver’s license issued from within the U.S. should be considered as a prerequisite for a
remote pilot certificate. The commenters recommended mimicking the process to obtain a
driver’s license, in which a person first obtains a learner’s permit and then, following
months of training and test-taking, obtains a license. This would enable 16-year-olds
(depending on their State of residence) to obtain a certificate. According to the
commenters, maintaining currency of the driver’s license would also imply certain motor
skills, vision, and a minimal level of medical fitness to operate UAS.
Several individual commenters said the minimum age should be lowered even
further to 14 years old. The commenters pointed out that 14-year-olds are capable of
having certain after-school jobs, and are allowed to operate a glider or balloon as a student
pilot. Event 38 Unmanned Systems said that it sees no logical reason for a minimum age
requirement, and that anyone who can pass the operator test should be allowed to fly a
UAS. Two other commenters also said there should be no minimum age requirement.
The FAA disagrees with commenters who suggest that the minimum age be less
than 16 because age 16 is the youngest age at which a person can be certificated to operate
an aircraft independently in the NAS. Because a remote pilot certificate allows people to
operate their small UAS independently, it is critical that those people possess the maturity
necessary to operate in a safe manner. The FAA also disagrees with commenters who
provided the example of a driver’s license and a learner’s permit as a justification for
lowering the minimum age below 16. In most states, the driving privileges of people under
the age of 16 are significantly limited compared to the privileges granted at age 18.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, most states do not permit full
driving privileges until 17 or 18 years of age. These privileges include high-risk situations
such as the ability to drive unsupervised at night or with a certain number of passengers.
The FAA also notes that driving a car does not use the same skills as operating a
small UAS. For example, in order to successfully drive a car, drivers have to learn skills,
such as parallel parking and making three-point turns, which have no applicability to small
UAS operations. Requiring a U.S. driver’s license as a prerequisite to obtaining a remote
pilot certificate would impose the cost of acquiring those skills on people who do not
currently possess a driver’s license without a corresponding safety benefit. Accordingly,
this rule will not require remote pilot certificate applicants to hold a driver’s license.
In response to commenters who recommended a lower minimum age to enable
academic uses, or the suggestion for an apprenticeship-like certificate for those under 18
years of age, the FAA notes that this is unnecessary because this rule allows an
uncertificated person to manipulate the controls of a small UAS, provided that: (1) they are
under the direct supervision of a certificated remote pilot in command; and (2) the remote
pilot in command is capable of taking over controls at any time during the flight. The FAA
also notes that, depending on the purpose of the operation, small UAS operations
conducted by community groups and non-profit organizations may be considered
recreation or hobby operations, which are not regulated under part 107 if conducted in
accordance with Public Law 112-95, section 336.
The Agricultural Technology Alliance, Illinois Farm Bureau, and GROWMARK
suggested that the FAA treat age eligibility to operate a small UAS in the same manner as
the operation of farm equipment—i.e., allowing individual State labor laws to control.
Though it did not explicitly advocate for the use of State labor laws to determine eligibility,
Predesa pointed out that child labor laws would apply to minors participating in
commercial operations. The commenter recommended the FAA consider mandating an
adult visual observer to assist a minor with an operator certificate when operating a small
UAS for commercial purposes. The commenter also recommended that the FAA consider
mandating an adult visual observer to assist a minor with an operator certificate when
operating a small UAS for education in a private program for fee, in a university setting, or
in a public school system.
The FAA does not agree with the recommendation to adopt State labor laws to set
the minimum age requirement. State laws are not uniform, and this could result in a
patchwork of regulations that would apply uneven requirements depending on one’s State
of residence. The FAA also notes that not all operations conducted under part 107 will be
commercial. For example, as discussed in section III.C.4 of this preamble, recreational
133 Section III.C.4 of this preamble contains further discussion of model aircraft operations.
small UAS operations that do not meet all of the criteria specified in Public Law 112 95,
section 336 will be conducted under part 107.
The FAA disagrees with Predessa’s suggestion that an adult visual observer should
be mandated in order to assist a minor with a remote pilot certificate (i.e. someone between
16 and 18 years of age) when operating a small UAS. As discussed previously, the FAA
currently allows 16-year-old pilots to operate, without supervision, glider and balloon
manned aircraft and small UAS (under a section 333 exemption). The FAA has not
observed an adverse effect on safety as a result of the pilot in those operations being 16
rather than 18 years old. Thus, while the FAA agrees that a visual observer enhances safety
by providing additional situational awareness to the remote pilot, it is not necessary to
mandate a visual observer based on the age of the remote pilot certificate holder or the type
of operation being conducted.
Accordingly, the FAA has amended proposed § 107.61(a) to lower the minimum
age to be eligible for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating to 16 years old. The
FAA notes, however, that an academic institution is permitted to establish its own (more
restrictive) policies and procedures for operational small UAS training, which may include
requiring the presence of adult visual observers for students who are younger than 18.
b. English Language Proficiency
In the NPRM, the FAA proposed to require that applicants for a part 107 airman
certificate be able to read, speak, and understand the English language. These proposed
English-language requirements would be consistent with all other airman certificates issued
by the FAA, as well as the international standard for aircraft operations accepted by ICAO.
However, the FAA also proposed an exception for people who are unable to meet one of
the English-language requirements due to medical reasons. Such a person would be eligible
for a certificate, but the FAA would be able to specify limitations on the certificate to
account for that person’s medical condition.
Five commenters expressed support for requiring airman-certificate applicants to be
able to read, speak, and understand the English language. There were no comments
opposing this aspect of the proposal. Accordingly, this rule will require that applicants for
an airman certificate be able to read, speak, and understand the English language.
Three commenters opposed the proposed exception to the English-language
requirements. One of these commenters stated that there should be no exceptions to the
English-language requirement, while another commenter stated that there should be no
exception for persons whose medical reasons would preclude them from effectively
communicating procedures or reading flight logs. A third commenter stated that a person
who cannot speak English should not be permitted to operate anywhere near people on the
ground because that person would be unable to communicate safety-relevant information to
people in the vicinity of the operation.
Limiting the exception for the English-language requirements of this rule would
impose a needless burden on airman-certificate applicants who have a medical condition.
Specifically, if an applicant cannot read, speak, or understand the English language, the
proposed exception would allow the FAA to impose restrictions on that applicant’s
certificate ensuring that the person’s English-language inability does not adversely affect
safety. For example, if an applicant is unable to communicate using speech, then the FAA
may restrict that applicant’s certificate to operations where speech is not necessary for the
safe operation of a small UAS.
Restrictions issued under this provision will be specific to each applicant, and as
such, the FAA cannot make the categorical statements suggested by the commenters as to
what will or will not be permitted for applicants with a specific English-language inability.
The FAA notes that its English-language regulations for other airman certificates have a
similar exception for applicants who have a medical issue, and the FAA has not
observed any adverse safety effects from having this exception in the regulations.
Accordingly, this final rule will retain the proposed exception for people who are
unable to meet one of the English language requirements due to a medical condition. 14
CFR 107.61(b). However, the FAA emphasizes that, as with other airmen, it may specify
limitations on a person’s airman certificate to ensure that the person’s medical condition
does not endanger the safety of the NAS.
c. No Airman Medical Certificate Required
For the reasons discussed below, this rule will not require an airman medical
certificate but will prohibit a person from manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS
or acting as a remote pilot in command or visual observer if he or she knows or has reason
to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe
operation of a small UAS.
The FAA received approximately 115 comments from organizations and
individuals on this subject. Several commenters stated than an airman medical certificate is
not necessary to operate a UAS. Other commenters suggested adding a requirement for an
airman medical certificate.
The FAA disagrees that a medical certificate should be required in this rule. With
certain exceptions, the FAA currently requires an airman medical certificate for exercising
the privileges of a student pilot certificate, a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot
certificate, a commercial pilot certificate, and an airline transport pilot certificate. The
primary reason for medical certification is to determine if the airman has a medical
condition that is likely to manifest as subtle or sudden incapacitation that could cause a
pilot to lose control of the aircraft, or impair the pilot’s ability to “see and avoid.”
Small UAS operations present a lower risk than manned operations to manned
aircraft and non-participating people on the ground, especially because the operations do
not involve any human beings onboard the aircraft who could be injured in the event of an
accident. Additionally, unlike manned-aircraft operations, remote pilots and visual
observers will be operating within a confined area of operation, subject to operational
limitations intended to minimize the exposure of the small unmanned aircraft to manned
aircraft in flight and people on the ground. Because of these operational limitations,
traditional FAA medical certification is not warranted for remote pilots or visual observers.
The FAA also notes that the risks associated with pilot incapacitation are similar to
the risks associated with loss of positive control. As discussed in that section, risks
associated with loss of positive control are mitigated in this rule through: (1) preflight
inspection of the control links, (2) a speed limit of 87 knots, and (3) a prohibition on
operations of small unmanned aircraft over people not directly participating in the
operation. Just as § 107.49(a)(3) will require remote pilots to ensure that all links between
ground station and the small unmanned aircraft are working properly, § 107.17 will require
the remote pilot in command to abstain from small UAS operations if he or she knows or
has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere
with the safe operation of the flight.
Federal Airways & Airspace, ALPA, and several individual commenters expressed
concern about the lack of a required vision exam. General Aviation Manufacturers
Association and Aerospace Industries Association suggested that remote pilots hold a valid
U.S. driver’s license to ensure a basic eye exam.
The FAA considers the visual-line-of-sight requirement for the remote pilot, the
person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS (if that person is not the remote
pilot), and the visual observer (if one is used) to be able to see the aircraft’s direction,
altitude, and attitude of flight to be preferable to a prescriptive vision standard. Even with
normal vision, it is foreseeable that a small unmanned aircraft may be so small that the
operational space must be reduced to meet the visual-line-of-sight requirements of
§ 107.31. Therefore, any demonstration of completing a vision exam would be less
effective than this rule’s visual-line-of-sight requirements, and as such, the FAA will not
adopt a vision exam requirement in the final rule.
The FAA also disagrees with comments suggesting the FAA require a U.S. driver’s
license. According to the DOT Office of Highway Policy Information, 13 percent of the
population aged 16 or older does not hold a state-issued driver’s license. As such,
requiring a U.S. driver’s license would create an undue burden for many remote pilots
without an equivalent increase in safety because the skills necessary to obtain a driver’s
license are not the same as the skills needed to pilot a small UAS. Further, the FAA has
historically allowed pilots of gliders and balloons to exercise the privileges of their pilot
certificates without requiring a medical certificate or U.S. driver’s license, and this practice
has resulted in no adverse effects on the NAS.
The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District supported the
proposed requirement to disqualify persons with known physical or mental conditions that
could interfere with the safe operation of the aircraft. Conversely, DronSystems
commented that it would be impossible to enforce a prohibition on operations if an operator
knows he or she has a medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of the
The FAA notes that a similar regulatory provision already exists in part 61. Under
§ 61.53, a pilot certificate holder is obligated to abstain from acting as pilot in command
during a period of medical deficiency. The requirement of § 61.53 applies regardless of
whether or not a pilot certificate holder also holds a medical certificate.
One individual suggested that the FAA provide a list of disqualifying medical
The FAA has not established a list of disqualifying medical conditions under
§ 107.17 because there are a wide range of small UAS operations that could be affected
differently by different medical conditions. For example, a person who is incapable of
moving his fingers would not be able to safely operate a small UAS whose control station
interface is manually manipulated with the fingers. However, that person may be able to
safely operate a small UAS whose control station is operated through voice controls.
A person participating in a small UAS operation is responsible for knowing his or
her physical and mental limitations and evaluating whether those limitations would allow
him or her to safely participate in the specific small UAS operation that he or she is
considering. If that person is unsure as to the limitations of his or her physical or mental
condition, he or she should consult with a physician. The FAA emphasizes that those with
a medical history or who are experiencing medical symptoms that would prevent them
from safely participating in a small UAS operation or that raise a reasonable concern
cannot claim to have no known medical conditions.
One commenter stated that residents of Alaska have a disproportionately high rate
of “seasonal bipolar disorder” or “polar night-induced solipsism syndrome,” and that
Alaskans might therefore be disproportionately affected by this provision. This commenter
suggests that the FAA remove “bipolar disorder—or at the least bipolar disorder and
related conditions ‘with seasonal pattern’—from the list of mental conditions which may
prevent someone from being able to operate” a small UAS.
The FAA notes that the commenter is referring to a list of medical conditions
enumerated in § 67.107(a)(3), § 67.207(a)(3), and § 67.307(a)(3), referring to a candidate
for a first, second, or third class medical certificate to have no established medical history
or clinical diagnosis of a bipolar disorder. However, as discussed previously, part 107 does
not include a list of disqualifying medical conditions. A person with bipolar disorder would
violate § 107.17 only if his or her bipolar disorder was such that it would interfere with the
safe operation of a small UAS.
The FAA also notes that in the NPRM it proposed to require that an applicant for an
airman certificate must submit a certified statement attesting to his or her physical and
mental condition at the time of the application. However, upon further review, the FAA has
decided to remove this provision from the rule because an applicant’s medical condition at
the time he or she submits his or her application for a remote pilot certificate may change
prior to operation of the small UAS.
d. Flight Proficiency and Aeronautical Experience
Because of the significantly reduced risk associated with small UAS operations
conducted under part 107, the NPRM proposed to not impose flight proficiency or
aeronautical experience requirements on applicants seeking a small UAS airman certificate.
However, the FAA invited comments on whether flight proficiency or aeronautical
experience should be required. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will not require
applicants for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating to demonstrate flight
proficiency or aeronautical experience.
Several commenters, including NBAA, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and
NetMoby, agreed with the NPRM that the FAA should not require small UAS operators to
demonstrate their proficiency in operating a small UAS prior to obtaining an operator
certificate. These commenters reasoned that requiring a proficiency test is unnecessary
because small UAS are not very difficult to operate and the test could be cost prohibitive
for some operators. NetMoby added that there will be a market incentive for manufacturers
to ensure that future operators are capable of flying their UAS.
Other commenters, including the AFL-CIO, AIA, and NAAA, disagreed with the
proposal and suggested that the FAA require small UAS operators to demonstrate their
proficiency in operating a small UAS prior to obtaining a remote pilot certificate. Some of
the commenters asserted that this would be consistent with testing requirements used for
part 61 pilot certificates.
Aviation Management and Modovolate Aviation suggested requiring a practical test
or demonstration of aeronautical knowledge for certain aircraft or flying conditions (e.g.,
those weighing more than 4.4 pounds, operation beyond visual line-of-sight), but not for
others (e.g., micro UAS, operation in only Class G airspace). Virginia Commonwealth
University Honors Students suggested that separate tests should be required for each type
of small UAS.
As discussed in section III.E.3.a of this preamble, small UAS operations conducted
under this rule will operate in a confined area of operation. As a result of this confined area
and due to the very low weight of the small unmanned aircraft, small UAS operations
conducted under part 107 will generally pose a very low risk as compared to manned
aircraft. As such, flight proficiency and aeronautical experience requirements (which apply
to part 61 pilots) are unnecessary for remote pilots of a small UAS.
Flight proficiency testing is also not necessary for small UAS operations because,
unlike a manned aircraft pilot, the remote pilot of a small UAS can easily terminate flight
at any point. The light weight and lack of people onboard the small unmanned aircraft
provides the remote pilot of that aircraft with a multitude of safe landing options. The
remote pilot also has the option to sacrifice the small unmanned aircraft because there are
no people onboard who would be endangered by that action. Conversely, a manned aircraft
can only land at a location that can safely accommodate its large weight. The landing of a
manned aircraft must also be accomplished in a manner that does not endanger the people
onboard the aircraft. Because of the ease with which the flight of a small unmanned aircraft
can be terminated and because of the overall low risk posed by small UAS operations that
will be conducted under part 107, this rule will not include practical testing or flight
experience requirements for a remote pilot certificate.
The FAA notes, however, that certain operational restrictions of part 107, such as
operations within visual line of sight, are waivable if the applicant can demonstrate that his
or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver. In
processing a waiver, the FAA may request additional mitigations, such as a demonstration
of remote pilot proficiency, to ensure that the operation can be conducted safely.
The Nez Perce Tribe requested that the FAA provide additional flexibility to small
UAS operators by allowing them to qualify for an operator certificate either via a written
test, a practical test, or a demonstration of aeronautical experience. In response, the FAA
notes that practical testing, aeronautical experience, and knowledge testing measure
different things. Knowledge testing determines whether an applicant has acquired
proficiency in the areas of knowledge being tested. Practical testing and aeronautical
experience determines the applicant’s flight proficiency. Although practical testing and
aeronautical experience may be used to assess some level of a person’s knowledge, the
aeronautical knowledge test is the method used to directly assess an applicant’s knowledge.
In this case, the FAA has determined that a remote pilot needs to have acquired the
knowledge needed to safely operate a small UAS because small UAS operations will
generally pose a very low risk as compared to manned aircraft. Thus, an aeronautical
knowledge test is the appropriate vehicle to determine whether an applicant for a remote
pilot certificate has acquired the necessary knowledge.
e. Formal Training
The NPRM did not propose to require formal training, but it invited comment on
whether passage of an FAA-approved training course should be required either instead of
or in addition to the aeronautical knowledge test. After reviewing the comments, the FAA
has determined that it will not impose any specific training or flight instruction
requirements for small UAS remote pilot certificate applicants.
Many commenters, including NAFI, NAAA, and A4A, stated that the FAA should
require individuals to attend a training course before obtaining a small UAS operator
certificate. NAFI asserted that an applicant may be able to pass an initial knowledge test
through rote memorization and retain little useful information or application after passing
the knowledge test. According to NAFI, the present FAA test management systems do not
allow for the robust, multi-version testing that is truly able to test to the application level of
learning. Commenters argued that training should encompass various topics and forms such
as scenarios, multi-rotor aircraft, educational contact time from a flight instructor, and
Conversely, National Roofing Contractors Association, NBAA, Southern
Company, Aerospace Industries Association, and Nez Perce Tribe argued that the FAA
should not require a training course. Aviation Management suggested that the FAA make
informational and training materials available online and also create online training
programs, but should not require training courses. National Roofing Contractors
Association, NRECA, and Team Rubicon suggested allowing industries to have tailored
certification processes or training specific to their needs, or to allow agencies and
organizations to conduct tailored in-house training.
The FAA took a risk-based approach to defining the airman certification
requirements for small UAS remote pilots, and in light of the contained nature of
operations, opted not to propose specific training, flight experience, or demonstration of
proficiency in order to be eligible for a certificate. A remote pilot certificate applicant’s
knowledge of small UAS, as well as regulations concerning safe operations in the NAS,
can adequately be evaluated through an initial and recurrent knowledge tests. A person who
has acquired the pertinent knowledge will pass the knowledge tests while a person who has
not done so will fail the test.
In response to commenters’ concerns about rote memorization, the FAA notes that
in addition to passing the initial knowledge test, remote pilot certificate holders will also
have to pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years to ensure that they have retained
the knowledge necessary to safely operate in the NAS. Further, remote pilot certificate
holders will also be subject to continuing FAA oversight. The FAA emphasizes that under
49 U.S.C. 44709 and § 107.7(b), the FAA may reexamine a certificated remote pilot if it
has sufficient reason to believe that the remote pilot may not be qualified to exercise the
privileges of his or her certificate.137 Because the qualification framework for the remote
pilot certificate is based on aeronautical knowledge, a reexamination under section 44709
and § 107.7(b) would be limited to the certificate holder’s aeronautical knowledge. The
reexamination may be conducted using an oral or written knowledge test.
A prescriptive formal training requirement is not necessary in this rule. Instead, this
rule will allow remote pilot certificate applicants to attain the necessary aeronautical
knowledge through any number of different methods, including self-study, enrolling in a
training seminar or online course, or through one-on-one instruction with a trainer familiar
with small UAS operations and part 107. This performance-based approach is preferable
because it will allow individuals to select a method of study that works best for them.
These methods of study will then be validated by whether or not the individual is able to
pass the knowledge test. As noted in OMB Circular A-4, performance-based standards are
generally preferable in a regulation because they allow the regulated parties “to choose the
most cost-effective methods for achieving the regulatory goal and create an incentive for
The FAA will publish Advisory Circulars to assist remote pilots in operating small
UAS safely in the NAS. The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) will also host online training
courses. These training courses could be used as one method of studying for the knowledge
test. Lastly, because there is already a robust network of nearly 700 testing centers located
throughout the country set up to administer FAA knowledge tests, the FAA has opted not
to establish new standards for small UAS remote pilot testing centers.
f. General Requirement for Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test
The NPRM proposed requiring applicants for a remote pilot airman certificate with
a small UAS rating to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test to demonstrate that they
have sufficient aeronautical knowledge to safely operate a small UAS. The FAA adopts the
provisions as proposed with three changes. First, as discussed in III.F.2.i below, the FAA
exempts part 61 pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete an initial
knowledge test as long as they satisfy the flight review requirements of their part 61 pilot
certificate and complete an online training course within the preceding 24 months. Second,
as discussed in III.F.2.h below, the FAA will require that pilots with military experience
operating unmanned aircraft pass an initial knowledge test in order to obtain a remote pilot
certificate with small UAS rating, and pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months
subsequent in order to continue to exercise the privileges of that certificate.
Many commenters, including National Association of State Aviation Officials,
NAAA, ALPA, and NAMIC, supported the FAA’s proposal to require an initial
aeronautical knowledge test in order to operate a small UAS. Conversely, several
commenters opposed the initial aeronautical knowledge test. Commenters argued that
initial testing is “overkill” and the FAA should treat small UAS pilots like part 103
ultralight vehicle pilots and not require airman certification or testing. The commenters
further argued that all testing is unnecessary and inappropriate.
The FAA disagrees with the commenters who asked that the knowledge test be
abolished. Title 49 U.S.C. 44703 requires the FAA to ensure that an airman certificate
applicant is qualified and able to perform the duties related to the position to be authorized
by the certificate.
Here, in order to meet its statutory obligation to determine that an applicant for a
remote pilot certificate possesses the knowledge necessary to safely operate in the NAS,
the FAA is requiring that those persons pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test.
Knowledge testing is the most flexible and efficient means for ensuring that a remote pilot
possesses the requisite knowledge to operate in the NAS because it allows the applicant to
acquire the pertinent knowledge in whatever manner works best for him or her. The
applicant can then take and pass the aeronautical knowledge test to verify that he or she has
indeed acquired the pertinent areas of knowledge.
NAFI recommended that an applicant should be required to obtain an instructor
endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. SkyView Strategies suggested
that to protect the public from a poorly prepared UAS operator who receives a passing
grade but gets important questions wrong, the UAS operator should be required to present
to a flight training instructor his or her written test results, noting areas where knowledge is
The FAA disagrees with the recommendation that an applicant should be required
to obtain an instructor endorsement to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test. While an
instructor endorsement is generally required for part 61 pilot certificates, the significantly
reduced risk associated with small UAS operations conducted under part 107 would make
this framework unduly burdensome in this case. Instead, a stand-alone knowledge test is
sufficient to verify the qualification of the remote pilot certificate applicant.
Because the aeronautical knowledge test will determine whether an applicant
possesses the knowledge needed to safely operate a small UAS, a separate flight instructor
endorsement should not be required to take the knowledge test. The FAA also notes that
the costs associated with failing and having to retake the knowledge test will provide an
incentive to applicants to pick a method of study that maximizes the chance of them
passing the aeronautical knowledge test on the first try.
The FAA also does not agree that a certificate applicant should be required to
present to a flight instructor his or her knowledge test results for remedial training. The
FAA maintains that if a candidate is “poorly prepared,” then that person is unlikely to pass
the knowledge test.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture suggested that a more
appropriate “aeronautical knowledge exam” needs to be developed with input from UAS
users. It further suggested that the FAA should periodically revisit the scope of the
aeronautical knowledge test as operational experience data increases.
FAA knowledge test banks are continuously updated to address changes to the
industry, safety, and special emphasis areas. While the FAA responds to industry and user
community feedback, the small UAS knowledge test bank is developed internally within
the agency to protect the integrity of test.
g. General Requirement for Recurrent Aeronautical Knowledge Test
The FAA proposed that a certificated remote pilot must also pass a recurrent
aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months. Like the flight review requirement specified
in § 61.56, the recurrent knowledge test provides the opportunity for a remote pilot’s
aeronautical knowledge to be reevaluated on a periodic basis. The FAA adopts this
provision as proposed, with one change. As discussed in III.F.2.i, the FAA exempts part 61
pilot certificate holders from the requirement to complete recurrent knowledge tests as long
as they satisfy the flight review requirements of § 61.56 and complete an online training
course every 24 months .
ALPA, AOPA, AUVSI and several other commenters supported the requirement
for a recurrent knowledge test. Conversely, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and a few
individual commenters argued that a recurrent knowledge test is unnecessary. The
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association explained that small UAS operations present a
substantially reduced risk as compared to manned-aircraft operations. Therefore, the
commenter argued, it is appropriate to impose different, and in some instances lesser,
The FAA disagrees with the notion that no periodic reevaluation of knowledge is
necessary. Knowledge of rules, regulations, and operating principles erodes over time,
particularly if the remote pilot is not required to recall such information on a frequent basis.
This is a fundamental principle of airman certification, and it applies to all FAA-
certificated airmen. For part 61 pilot certificate holders, the flight review, conducted under
§ 61.56, specifically requires “[a] review of the current general operating and flight rules of
part 91” in addition to maneuvers necessary to safely exercise the privileges of the
certificate. Likewise, the FAA considers a recurrent knowledge test to be an effective
means of evaluating a remote pilot’s retention of knowledge necessary to safely operate
small unmanned aircraft in the NAS. Because of the reduced risk posed by small UAS, the
FAA is not requiring remote pilots to demonstrate a minimum level of flight proficiency to
a specific standard or recency of flight experience in order to exercise the privileges of
their airman certificate.
Drone Labs suggested extending the time period between recurrent tests to 5 years,
and/or making the test available online to ease recertification. Kansas Farm Bureau
recommended a 6-year interval between recurrent tests, similar to the interval for renewal
of a driver’s license.
The FAA does not agree that the recurrent testing interval should be longer than
two years. Unlike the privileges afforded by a driver’s license, which are exercised on a
frequent basis by most drivers, many holders of remote pilot certificates may only exercise
their privileges occasionally or may not regularly conduct operations that apply all of the
concepts tested on the aeronautical knowledge test. For example, a remote pilot in
command may spend years never operating outside of Class G airspace, and then may
move to a different location that requires him or her to begin conducting small UAS
operations in Class D airspace. Based on experience with manned pilots, those persons who
exercise the privileges of their certificate on an infrequent basis are likely to retain the
knowledge for a shorter period of time than those who exercise the privileges of their
certificate on a regular basis.
Further, as unmanned aircraft operations increase in the NAS, the FAA anticipates
the possibility of further changes to rules and regulations. By requiring evaluation on a
two-year cycle, the FAA is able to ensure that remote pilots are aware of the most recent
changes to regulations affecting their operations.
The FAA acknowledges, however, the burden associated with in-person testing
every two years. As such, the FAA intends to look at (in the Operations of Small
Unmanned Aircraft Over People rule) alternative methods to further reduce this burden
without sacrificing the safety benefits afforded by a two-year recurrent knowledge check.
h. Pilots with Military Experience
The NPRM proposed allowing pilots with military experience operating unmanned
aircraft to take the recurrent knowledge test in lieu of the initial knowledge test in order to
be eligible for an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating. For the
reasons discussed below, this rule will require pilots with military experience operating
unmanned aircraft to comply with the initial and recurrent knowledge testing requirements
discussed in the previous sections.
NBAA, Small UAV Coalition and Texas A&M University agreed with the
proposed rule requiring only a recurrent knowledge test in lieu of the initial knowledge test
to qualify for a UAS operator airman certificate. Prioria said that military UAS operators
and OEM-certified UAS operators should be grandfathered in without the need to take an
initial knowledge test because their prior operational experience should suffice. In addition,
Aviation Model Code of Conduct Initiative, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Small UAV
Coalition, and others supported accepting existing pilot credentials, especially military pilot
credentials, in lieu of requiring those pilots to take an initial knowledge test or obtain a
separate small UAS certificate. ArgenTech Solutions suggested that FAA should put a time
limit on when military experience is acceptable for taking the recurrent knowledge test.
In contrast, ALPA and others suggested that an initial knowledge test, rather than
just a recurrent test, is appropriate for applicants with military experience flying UAS.
ALPA noted that such pilots do not necessarily have experience operating in the NAS, and
therefore cannot be assumed to be familiar with all the subject areas included in the initial
test. ALPA also pointed to the wide variety of UAS used in the military and suggested that
a given pilot’s experience may not necessarily be relevant to the operation of a small UAS
in the NAS. ALPA also stated that the FAA should review a military pilot’s specific
training, skills, and experience before determining what “supplemental training, knowledge
testing, or skills demonstration” might be needed.
Similarly, one commenter asserted that experience operating military UAS is not
relevant to the operation of a civil small UAS, and that therefore those with military
experience should be subject to the same testing requirements as other applicants. Another
individual echoed ALPA’s concern that military operations are conducted almost
exclusively in military airspace, not in the NAS. One commenter, while supporting an
initial-test exemption for applicants with military experience, added that former military
UAS pilots do not necessarily understand civil operations in the NAS.
Planehook Aviation, NOAA, DOD, and an individual commenter said that the prior
military experience provision proposed in § 107.75 should apply to both military and nonmilitary
COA UAS operators. One commenter provided supporting reasoning stating that
“[t]here are several non-military Federal agencies that have well established sUAS
programs and, as is the case with NASA, they have decades of experience with sUAS and
operating sUAS in the NAS.” NOAA argued that there are no practical differences between
NOAA pilots and military pilots because they are both trained in the same facilities. DOD
raised a similar argument, asking that the rule recognize DOD civilian and contractor
personnel that have a level of training equivalent to military personnel. One individual
suggested that the FAA allow civilian operators with a minimum of 1,000 logged hours as
operators of UAS for government and military agencies to qualify for taking the recurrent
knowledge test instead of the initial test.
The FAA agrees with commenters who expressed concern about applicants
obtaining a remote pilot certificate to operate civil small UAS without passing an initial
knowledge test. The levels of training and certification for unmanned aircraft differ greatly
between branches of the armed services, and therefore there is no consistent training the
FAA can use as a comparison to its requirements in order to credit military UAS pilots.
Further, many of the required knowledge areas for the part 107 initial knowledge test, such
as airspace classification, airport operations, and radio communications, are not
consistently covered in training across all branches of the U.S. military. Accordingly, at
this time, this rule will not allow military UAS pilots to bypass the initial aeronautical
knowledge test. This applies to NOAA UAS pilots as well, because, as NOAA pointed out,
they are trained in the same military facilities.
The FAA notes, however, that in some cases, government and military UAS pilots
are trained as pilots of manned aircraft, in which case they may qualify for a part 61 pilot
certificate through military competency. Specifically, manned-aircraft military pilots are
frequently able to qualify for a part 61 pilot certificate under § 61.73 without taking a
practical test by providing specific documentation and passing a military competency
knowledge test. Provided those pilots obtain a part 61 pilot certificate and meet the flight
review and online training course requirements discussed in the next section, they may
qualify for a remote pilot certificate with small UAS rating without having to take any
UAS knowledge test.
i. Credit to Holders of Part 61 Pilot Certificates
For the reasons discussed below, this rule will allow part 61 pilot certificate holders
(other than the holders of a student pilot certificate) with current flight reviews139 to
substitute an online training course for the aeronautical knowledge testing required by this
Airborne Law Enforcement Association and Texas A&M University-Corpus
Christi, suggested requiring only the recurrent knowledge test for part-61-certificated
pilots. Numerous commenters also suggested that holders of part 61 airman certificates
should be required to take only the recurrent knowledge test, not the initial knowledge test,
or should be exempted entirely from knowledge-testing requirements. One commenter
suggested that the holders of private, commercial, and ATP certificates who have operated
UAS under exemptions be exempted from the initial knowledge test requirement. Another
commented that non-military COA pilots should be permitted to take just the recurrent test,
since the applicants will usually hold at least a private pilot certificate. One commenter
stated that those applicants who hold part 61 pilot certificates should be required only to
complete UAS-specific modules as part of the existing FAA Wings program. Another
commenter stated that there should be a provision to enable existing small UAS pilots with
a certain amount of logged PIC time to fly a small UAS without having to take a
The FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that requiring part-61-certificated
pilots who satisfy the flight-review requirements of § 61.56 to take an initial or recurrent
knowledge test is unduly burdensome. Through initial certification and subsequent flight
reviews, a part-61-certificated airman is required to demonstrate knowledge of many of the
topic areas tested on the UAS knowledge test. These areas include: airspace classification
and operating requirements, aviation weather sources, radio communication procedures,
physiological effects of drugs and alcohol, aeronautical decision-making and judgment, and
airport operations. Because a part 61 pilot certificate holder is evaluated on these areas of
knowledge in the course of the part 61 certification and flight review process, reevaluating
these areas of knowledge on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests conducted under part
107 would be needlessly duplicative.
However, there are UAS-specific areas of knowledge (discussed in section III.F.2.j
of this preamble) that a part-61-certificated pilot may not be familiar with. Accordingly,
instead of requiring part-61-certificated pilots who are current on their flight reviews to
take the initial and recurrent knowledge tests, this rule will provide those pilots with the
option to take an online training course focusing on UAS-specific areas of knowledge. Just
as there is an initial and recurrent knowledge test, there will also be an initial and recurrent
training course available to part 61 pilot certificate holders. Those certificate holders will
be able to substitute the initial training course for the initial knowledge test and the
recurrent training course for the recurrent knowledge test. To ensure that a certificate
holder’s UAS-specific knowledge does not become stale, this rule will include the
requirement that a part 61 pilot certificate holder must pass either the recurrent training
course or the recurrent knowledge test every 24 months.
The FAA emphasizes that the online training course option in lieu of taking the
knowledge test will be available only to those part 61 pilot certificate holders who satisfy
the flight review required by § 61.56. This is to ensure that the certificate holder’s
knowledge of general aeronautical concepts that are not included on the training course
does not become stale. Part 61 pilot certificate holders who do not meet the flight review
requirements of § 61.56 will be unable to substitute the online training course for the
required aeronautical knowledge test. Thus, under § 107.63(a)(2), a part 61 pilot certificate
holder seeking to substitute completion of the initial training course for the initial
aeronautical knowledge test will have to present his or her logbook upon application for a
remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating to demonstrate that he or she has satisfied
this requirement. The applicant will also have to present a certificate of completion
showing that he or she has completed the initial online training course.
The FAA also notes that the above discussion does not apply to holders of a part 61
student pilot certificate. A person is not required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test,
pass a practical (skills) test, or otherwise demonstrate aeronautical knowledge in order to
obtain a student pilot certificate. Further, student pilot certificate holders who have
received an endorsement for solo flight under § 61.87(b) are only required to demonstrate
limited knowledge associated with conducting a specific solo flight. For these reasons, the
option to take an online training course instead of an aeronautical knowledge test will not
extend to student pilot certificate holders.
j. Areas of Knowledge on the Aeronautical Knowledge Tests and Training Courses for Part
61 Pilot Certificate Holders
The NPRM proposed that the initial aeronautical knowledge test would test the
following areas of knowledge: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2)
airspace classification and operating requirements, obstacle clearance requirements, and
flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation; (3) official sources of
weather and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance; (4) small UAS
loading and performance; (5) emergency procedures; (6) crew resource management; (7)
radio communication procedures; (8) determining the performance of small unmanned
aircraft; (9) physiological effects of drugs and alcohol; (10) aeronautical decision-making
and judgment; and (11) airport operations. The NPRM also proposed the following areas of
knowledge for the recurrent knowledge test: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS
operations; (2) airspace classification and operating requirements, obstacle clearance
requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation; (3)
official sources of weather; (4) emergency procedures; (5) crew resource management; (6)
aeronautical decision-making and judgment; and (7) airport operations.
For the reasons discussed below, this rule will remove obstacle clearance
requirements and add maintenance and inspection procedures as areas of knowledge that
will be tested on both the initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests. Further,
aviation weather sources will be removed from the recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests.
Except for these changes, this rule will finalize all other areas of knowledge as proposed in
With regard to the initial and recurrent training courses for part 61 pilot certificate
holders, those courses will only cover UAS-specific areas of knowledge that are not
included in the training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate. Thus, the initial
training course will cover: (1) regulations applicable to small UAS operations; (2) small
UAS loading and performance; (3) emergency procedures; (4) crew resource management;
(5) determining the performance of the small unmanned aircraft; and (6) maintenance and
inspection procedures. The recurrent training course will cover: (1) regulations applicable
to small UAS operations; (2) emergency procedures; (3) crew resource management; and
(4) maintenance and inspection procedures.