Part 107 (ACS) Airmen Certification Standards Explained

Tape measureWhen Part 107 was released, a flurry of other documents and website material came out also. Everyone skimmed through but did not take the time to really study things carefully. The FAA released a draft version of the Part 107 (ACS) Airmen Certification Standards for remote pilots. The ACS is really a standard by which to measure if you are qualified.

Did you know that the ACS draft version and the final version differ significantly in certain places? Two of the most significant changes were the percentages of certain test subjects were INCREASED. Keep reading to find out. Everyone went out and started studying or developing courses based upon it, but I don’t think anyone paid attention to the little things. This ACS, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standards, is what you are going to need to know going forward to study. If it is not in the ACS, then it isn’t on the test.

UPDATED: I created free 100+ page Part 107 test study guide. The study guide has the material the FAA suggested you study, but I added essential material they left out. It also include 5 “cram” summary pages of test material. It also comes with 41 sample Part 107 exam questions that are answered and explained.

What is the Part 107 ACS?

It 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.”

The FAA released a pdf of FAQ’s on ACS in general.

How do I use the ACS to study for the Part 107 exam?

The sUAS ACS 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 = 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)

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.”

Is there a video explaining the ACS?

Here is a video explaining the ACS as it is being implemented generally. This isn’t a Part 107 specific video but is helpful to understanding more about the ACS.


So what significantly changed between the draft and final version?


Continue to the next page…………….


Jonathan Rupprecht

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