Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards Explained (2019)

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

What Are the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has the FAA Change the Remote Pilot Airmen Certification Standards?

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

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

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

LOCATION

NEW

DRAFT

I. Regulations References 14 CFR parts 47, 48 and 107, subpart B; AC 107-2 14 CFR part 107, subpart A; AC 107
I. Regulations

Objective (Add)

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

a. Careless or reckless

b. Dropping an object

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

a. Maximum groundspeed

b. Altitude limitations

c. Minimum visibility

d. Cloud clearance requirements

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

References (Add)

14 CFR part 71; AC 107-2; FAA-H-8083-25; AIM [NOTE: I believe the FAA should have also included 14 CFR Part 73 in here as well] AC 107; FAA-H-8083-25; AIM
UA.II.B.K2 ATC authorizations and related operating limitations. Concepts relating to ATC clearances and permissions.
UA.II.B.K3 3. (They merely deleted “maximum altitude limit” from the draft and everything moved up.) Maximum altitude limit.
UA.II.B.K5 The NOTAM system including how to obtain an established NOTAM through Flight Service. (this moved up to K4).
UA.II.B.K6 (Deleted) It looks like this was combined into UA.II.B.K5 6. Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) airspace.
UA.II.B.K7 (Deleted) It looks like this was combined into UA.II.B.K5 7. Notice to airmen (NOTAMS) system including how to obtain an established NOTAM through Flight Service.
UA.V.A.K8 (Subtraction)

 

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

Task B. Airport Operations

References (Addition)

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

Task D. Aeronautical Decision-Making (Subtraction)

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

15 – 25%

II. Airspace & Requirements

8- 15%

(Change) V. Operations

35 – 45%

V. Operations

13-18%

Appendix 4 (Add) Part 47
Delete AC 60-22 (Aeronautical Decision Making)
Delete AC 91-57 (Model Aircraft Operating Standards)
Add FAA-H-8083-2 (Risk Management Handbook)
Appendix 5 (Abbreviations and Acronyms)  (Delete) AAS (Airport Advisory Services)
Add ACR (Airman Certification Representative)
Add AKTC (Airman Knowledge Testing Center)
Add ATC (Air Traffic Control)
Change CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) CFI

(Certified Flight Engineer)

Delete DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner)
Add DOT (Department of Transportation)
Add FTN (FAA Tracking Number)
Delete GCS (Ground Control Station)
Add IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Applicant)
Delete IFO (International Field Office)
Delete IFU (International Field Unit)
Delete MOA (Military Operating Area)
Add ODA (Organization Designation Authorization)
Add RPE (Remote Pilot Examiner)
Change UNICOM (Aeronautical Advisory Communications Stations) UNICOM (Universal Integrated Community)
Delete UTC (Coordinated Universal Time)
Delete VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions)
Add VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)

 

The FAA Part 107 ACS also included a helpful table.

 

AC 107-2 sUAS

Part 61 Pilot Certificate Holders with a Current Flight Review

Online Application After Knowledge Test [1]  

Paper Application [2] After Knowledge Test [1]

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

 

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

 

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

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

 

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

 

Do not receive a temporary certificate

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

Submit an online application using IACRA.

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

• IACRA application ID number

• FAA Tracking Number (FTN)

• Identification

• Online course completion certificate

• Pilot certificate

• Flight review documentation

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

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.

Complete FAA Form 8710-13.

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

• FAA Form 8710-13

• Identification

• Online course completion certificate

• Pilot certificate

• Flight review documentation

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

Receive a permanent certificate by mail.