FAA FAR Part 107 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


part-107-drone-questionsSince Part 107 came out, there have been many questions surrounding the remote pilot certificate, TSA background checks, waivers vs. authorizations, where to take the exam, etc.  I wrote them down and I hope I provide you some clarity and answers to this evolving area of the law.

I’m breaking the FAA Part 107 FAQs down into these sections:

  1. General Questions,
  2. Part 61 Pilots (Sport, Recreational, Private, Commercial, ATP, but NOT Student),
  3. Non-Pilots,
  4. Those with Pending Section 333 Exemptions, and
  5. Those Who Already Have Section 333 Exemptions.

This is part of an overall FAA Part 107 Series of blog posts:

 

General Questions

 

If I pass this Part 107 remote pilot exam, can I charge for the flight?

Yes, provided you fly within the requirements of Part 107.

 

Do model aircraft individuals have to get a 107 exam?

No. Section 107.1 says Part 107 does not apply to “Any aircraft subject to the provisions of part 101 of this chapter[.]” Part 101 is the section for model aircraft. You are going to have to meet the criteria of Part 101 or you will be forced to fly under Part 107. One area that has not been fully clarified is whether FPV racing will be allowed to fly under Part 101 since FPV racing does not fully comply with the FAA’s 2014 Model Aircraft Interpretation which said FPV could not be used to see and avoid other aircraft. The preamble to Part 107 in Pages 73-77 said they will issue a final interpretation on the 2014 interpretation sometime coming up but they did NOT address the interpretation in Part 107. Interestingly, Part 107 DOES allow for FPV provided you use a visual observer.  See page 149 of the Part 107 Preamble.

 

Part 107 isn’t for model aircraft people but just commercial people, right?

No, everyone on the internet incorrectly classified everything as either commercial or non-commercial when the correct way to do it is model or non-model. Non-profit environmental organizations or fire departments are two good situations where they aren’t charging for the flight and cannot fall into model aircraft operations. They would need to get authorized some other way to fly.

 

What does Part 107 mean for the drone industry?

I was a guest on the Drone Radio Show podcast and gave my thoughts on how this will affect the industry.

 

How do I take this Part 107 exam?

See How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots) for more information about how to get your drone pilot license.

 

What in the world do I study?

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How much does remote pilot initial knowledge exam cost?

First time pilots have to take the initial knowledge exam which is estimated at $150.[1] Current manned pilots can either take the initial knowledge exam for $150 or take an initial online training course for free.

 

When does Part 107 go into effect?

August 29, 2016.

 


I saw some link on the Facebook forums about a Part 107 test. I took it and received a certificate like what is on the right. Am I good to go?

drone pilot licenseThat online test is NOT the Part 107 initial knowledge exam. That test is ONLY for the current manned aircraft pilots who wish to obtain a remote pilot certificate. See How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots) for more information about how to get your drone pilot license.

 

How many different exams are there?

The current manned aircraft pilots can take either the initial online training course or the Part 107 initial knowledge exam while the first time pilots can ONLY take the initial Part 107 knowledge exam. After you receive your remote pilot certificate, you’ll have to pass a recurrent exam within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test.

 


I read some people on Facebook telling me about the law……

Let me stop you right there. Getting aviation law advice off Facebook forums is like getting medical help off Craigslist – it’s dumb. Yes, I know there are a few good attorneys online that do help, but there are also a ton of posers. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk or get aviation law info off Facebook. On top of this, some of the people on these Facebook groups are committing the unlicensed practice of law by picking up clients for legal work but are too ignorant of their own criminal laws to know they are breaking these laws. Offering to help you be compliant with the law – while breaking the law themselves.

What happens if I fail the Part 107 initial knowledge test? 

The FAA’s Advisory Circular says on page 27, “Retaking the UAS knowledge test after a failure:

  • 14 CFR part 107, section 107.71 specifies that an applicant who fails the knowledge test may not retake the knowledge test for 14 calendar days from the date of the previous failure.
  • An applicant retesting after failure is required to submit the applicable AKTR indicating failure to the testing center prior to retesting.
  • No instructor endorsement or other form of written authorization is required to retest after failure.
  • The original failed AKTR must be retained by the proctor and attached to the applicable daily log.”

 

Let’s Talk About the TSA Background Check.

 

I’m a new pilot, does TSA pre-check or global entry count?

Don’t know.

 

I’m a current part 61 pilot trying to obtain my remote pilot certificate, do I have to get TSA background checked?

No, you already had your check when you obtained your Part 61 certificate.

 

I’m a fire fighter, law enforcement officer, government agency employee, etc……can I get my 107 certificate and then go do government stuff?  

Sure. But keep in mind that sometimes it might be beneficial to get a Public COA to accomplish the mission as there are certain restrictions with Part 107. However, there are Part 107 waivers that can be obtained. Contact me as each situation is different.

 

What can I NOT do under Part 107?

See my blog post on Part 107 waivers.

 

I did a drone certification course with some company, does that count?

No, your certification is worth nothing. A bunch of these drone courses popped up being taught by unqualified individuals who were far more proficient at WordPress and Mailchimp than they were at teaching weather and manuals.

 

Why do you use the term drone pilot license in the title of one of your blog posts when the correct term is remote pilot certificate?

I know the correct term is remote pilot certificate; however, when writing a blog post, it is important to write a title that would be understood by new individuals.  If you were new to this area, what would you type in Google?  I wrote the articles for first-time pilots, not existing pilots who know how to speak “aviationese.”

 

Do you have to have a pilot’s license to fly a drone?

It depends on. If you are flying recreationally according to Part 101, you do NOT need to have a pilot license. If you are flying non-recreationally (commercial, etc.), then you would need a pilot certificate.

 

Part 61 Pilots (Sport, Recreational, Private, Commercial, ATP, but NOT Student).

  1. How does a current manned aircraft pilot get a 107 certificate? See How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots) for more information about how to get your drone pilot license.
  1. How long does my temporary certificate last? § 107.64(a) says, “A temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating is issued for up to 120 calendar days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.”

 

First Time Pilot Questions

  1. How do I go about getting my drone pilot license? The correct term is a remote pilot certificate. See How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots) for more information about how to get your remote pilot certificate.
  2. Where can I take the 107 knowledge exam? You take it at a knowledge exam testing center. A complete list is located here.
  3. Can I fly under the Part 107 restrictions now since they will be out soon? I don’t have a 333 exemption. Nope. You can’t fly under them without having a remote pilot certificate.

Those with Pending Section 333 Exemptions

  1. I filed a 333 petition and it is still pending. Now what? The FAA will post a letter to your docket. See here for an example of what one looks like. The FAA is breaking the petitions down into three tiers: (1) operations that can be done within 107, (2) operations that can be done within 107, but need a waiver, and (3) operations that cannot be done within 107 even using a waiver.  Aerial data collection and closed-set exemption petitions are going into tier 1 which means the FAA is closing your docket and no further action is needed from you. You are going to have to go fly under Part 107 and you won’t be given a 333 exemption.
  2. But my exemption was just about to be approved. Am I goofed?  There was a line drawn in the sand. Exemption petitions or amendments that were posted to regulations.gov by June 22nd are being put into 1 of 3 tiers. Exemptions posted June 23 and onward will NOT be analyzed and put into one of 3 tiers. But going back to the answer to question 1, you most likely will be Tier 1 and the docket will be closed.
  3. Has the FAA gone through all the petitioners posted up until June 22nd? I think most of them have been analyzed.
  4. Which tier does a closed-set TV/movie filming petition go? Tier 1. Remember that Part 107 does not allow operations over people and would need a waiver. We were hoping that petitions asking for closed-set operations would be put in Tier 2 to have a waiver to operate over participating actors operating under the MPTOM. The FAA analyzed the newer summary Section 333 exemptions (~March  and onward) that were granted and determined that they do not allow operations over participating actors; thus, closed-set petitions cannot go into Tier 2.  Restriction 28 says:
    1. Over or near people directly participating in the operation of the UAS. People directly participating in the operation of the UAS include the PIC, VO, and other consenting personnel that are directly participating in the safe operation of the UA.
    2. Near but not over people directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS operation. People directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS must be briefed on the potential risks and acknowledge and consent to those risks. Operators must notify the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) with a plan of activities at least 72 hours prior to flight operations.
  5. Why did the FAA choose to do a cut-off? One primary reason is Part 11 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Part 11 governs the FAA rulemaking process, which exemptions are a part of.  14 C.F.R 11.81 says, “You must include the following information in your petition for an exemption . . . The specific section or sections of 14 CFR from which you seek an exemption[.]” There was no Part 107 before. All the exemptions were asking for exemptions from certain parts of Part 61, Part 91, etc. Now we have Part 107. We need to file petitions for exemption from particular regulations of Part 107. We didn’t have the final rules before so we couldn’t have anticipated the specific regulations that we wanted exemptions from.
  6. I waited all this time and the FAA is just goofing me up? The FAA’s response would be that you should have filed sooner. They have thousands of pending 333 petitions.

Those Who Already Have Section 333 Exemptions

  1. I have a 333 and want to do a job tomorrow. Can I do it or do I have to wait to get a 107 certificate? Page 81 of the Preamble to Part 107 says, “the FAA will allow any Section 333 exemption holder to either continue operating under the terms and conditions of the exemption until its expiration, or conduct operations under Part 107 as long as the operation falls under Part 107.” Some time later you should switch over to Part 107 before the 333 exemption expires. Remember that Part 107 is not in effect right now so you can’t start operating under Part 107, which isn’t in effect, and on top of that, you don’t have a Part 107 certificate or 107 add-ons to your existing Part 61 certificate. Think of it like hats. You have a 333 hat right now. When 107 is being issued and you pick it up, you then have the choice to put on one hat or the other but remember you can’t mix and match parts of the hats.
  2. Do we still need to get COAs to operate near airports like we did with the 333s? You are required to get an airspace waiver if you are doing operations in Class B, C, D, or E airspace. So you still need a COA near actual legitimate airports. Gone are the days where we had to deal with the middle of nowhere private airports or the heliports that were completely all over the place like a herd of toddlers that somehow got into craft sparkles.
  3. Wait. I read Part 107 and it said ATC permission. It didn’t say anything about waivers. Where are you getting this COA idea from?  The FAA further clarified this area by their own FAQ page which says:
    • How do I request permission from Air Traffic Control to operate in Class B, C, D, or E airspace? Is there a way to request permission electronically?
      You can request airspace permission through an online web portal on the FAA’s UAS website. This online portal will be available on August 29, 2016.
    • Can I contact my local air traffic control tower or facility directly to request airspace permission?
      No. All airspace permission requests must be made through the online portal.
  4. What advantage do 333 guys have now?  You have the ability to transition over to Part 107 when you feel like it. Many are rushing in to get their Part 107 certificate but the test will not be available until August and the new pilots will have to pass a TSA background check – along with a ton of other people. For non-part 61 pilots, the date of taking the exam and date of having a temporary certificate in their hand are going to be two different dates. Another advantage is that the 333 operators with airspace COAs will have an advantage to those without. There could be delays in implementation by the FAA which affects the 107 people but not the 333 people. Ultimately, the 107 is going to replace the 333 exemptions, except for a few situations like 55 pound and heaver, VLOS package delivery, carrying hazardous material, etc.
  5. Can a Part 107 remote pilot fly under our 333 exemption as pilot in command? Prior to June 2016, no 333 exemption had this provision so NO. You can’t mix and match parts and pieces of the 333 and the 107. It is either/or. For example, let’s say you have a COA already for your 333 in Class D airspace, you can’t take that COA and apply it over to your 107 certificate.
  6. So why would I fly under Part 107 as opposed to the 333 exemption? There is no 500 foot bubble rule, no NOTAMs, no sport pilot license at a minimum, no visual observer requirement, etc.
  7. Can I renew my 333 exemption? This depends on whether you can do the operations under 107 or not. Most of the exemptions were for aerial data collection which can be done under Part 107 so they will most likely not be renewed. See page 87 of the preamble to Part 107 for more details.

FREE Drone Pilot License Study Guide!

  • 100 + pages.
  • 41 FAA practice questions with answers.
  • 24 exclusive sample questions.
  • 6 "cram" pages.
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[1] Page 13.

[2] Page 580.