Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses. (2018)


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Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

(a) An initial training course covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;

(3) Small unmanned aircraft loading;

(4) Emergency procedures;

(5) Crew resource management;

(6) Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft; and

(7) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

(b) A recurrent training course covers the following areas of knowledge:

(1) Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(2) Emergency procedures;

(3) Crew resource management; and

(4) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

My Commentary on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

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 material. 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 flight operation; 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. 6.6.1.1 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). 6/21/16 AC 107-2 6-5 6.6.1.2 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.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses.

Aeronautical Knowledge Training Course (Initial and Recurrent). This section is
applicable only to persons who hold a part 61 airman certificate, other than a student pilot
certificate, and have a current flight review.

6.7.1 Initial Training Course. As described in paragraph 6.4, a pilot applying for a remote pilot
certificate may complete an initial training course instead of the knowledge test. The
training course can be taken online at www.faasafety.gov. The initial training course will
cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:

1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges, limitations, and
flight operation;
2. Effects of weather on small UA performance;
3. Small UA loading and performance;
4. Emergency procedures;
5. CRM;
6. Determining the performance of small UA; and
7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.
Note: Additional information on some of the knowledge areas listed above can
be found in Appendix B.

6.7.2 Recurrent Training Course. After a pilot 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. As a renewal process, the
remote pilot must complete either a recurrent training course or a recurrent knowledge
test within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical
knowledge test. Figure 6-2, Recurrent Training Course Cycle Examples, illustrates an
individual’s possible renewal cycles.

6.7.2.1 The recurrent training course areas are as follows:
1. Applicable regulations relating to sUAS rating privileges,
limitations, and flight operation;
2. Emergency procedures;
3. CRM; and
4. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.74 Initial and recurrent training courses from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

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
rule.

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
knowledge test.

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
the NPRM.

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.

i. Regulations Applicable to Small UAS
The NPRM proposed to include an area of knowledge on both the initial and
recurrent knowledge tests that determines whether the test taker knows the regulations
applicable to small UAS. By testing the applicant for an airman certificate on knowledge of
applicable regulations, the initial and recurrent knowledge tests would ensure that the
applicant understands what those regulations require and does not violate them due to
ignorance.

The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this aspect of its proposal, and
as such, this rule will include regulations applicable to small UAS as an area of knowledge
that is tested on both initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests. This area of
knowledge will also be included on the initial and recurrent training courses that can be
taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders instead of a knowledge test because regulations
applicable to a small UAS are a UAS-specific area of knowledge that is not included in the
training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate.

ii. Airspace Classifications and Operating Requirements, and Flight
Restrictions Affecting Small Unmanned Aircraft Operation
The NPRM also proposed testing (on both the initial and recurrent knowledge tests)
knowledge of airspace classification and operating requirements, as well as knowledge of
flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation. The NPRM explained that
part 107 would include airspace operating requirements, such as the requirement to obtain
ATC permission prior to operating in controlled airspace, and in order to comply with
those requirements, an airman would need to know how to determine the classification of
the airspace in which he or she would like to operate. The NPRM also proposed to test
knowledge of how to determine which areas of airspace are prohibited, restricted, or
subject to a TFR.

Under the NPRM, this area of knowledge would also be included in the recurrent
knowledge test because: (1) airspace that the airman is familiar with could become
reclassified over time; (2) the location of existing flight restrictions could change over
time; and (3) some airmen may not regularly encounter these issues in their operations. For
the reasons discussed below, this rule will include knowledge of airspace classification and
operating requirements and knowledge of flight restrictions affecting small unmanned
aircraft operation as an area of knowledge tested on both the initial and recurrent
knowledge tests.

The California Agricultural Aircraft Association supported testing on how the
airspace is managed, what the rules and regulations are, and how manned aircraft operate in
the airspace. Aerius suggested that the knowledge test should include special use airspace,
right-of-way rules, visual scanning, aeromedical factors (e.g., the limitations of the human
eye), and accident reporting. On the other hand, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asserted
that airspace classification is not relevant for low altitude micro UAS flights far away from
airports and should not be tested for airmen seeking to operate micro UAS.
The FAA declines to eliminate airspace classification as an area of knowledge
tested for small UAS operations. As an initial matter, the FAA notes that this rule will not
prohibit any small UAS (including micro UAS) from operating near airports. For UAS not
operating near an airport, the FAA notes that controlled airspace can extend a significant
distance away from an airport. For example, the surface area of Class B airspace can
extend up to 8 nautical miles away from an airport. Additionally, airspace classification
may change over time; uncontrolled (Class G) airspace may be changed to controlled
airspace and vice versa. A remote pilot of any small UAS will need to have the ability to
determine what class of airspace his or her small UAS operation will take place in to ensure
that the operation complies with the airspace rules of part 107.

In response to Aerius, the FAA notes that special-use airspace will be covered
under knowledge of flight restrictions, which will determine the test taker’s knowledge of
regulatory restrictions on small UAS flight imposed through means such as prohibited
airspace or a TFR. Right-of-way rules, visual scanning, and accident reporting will be
covered by the knowledge area of regulations applicable to small UAS operations because
all of these concepts are codified in the operational regulations of part 107. Aeromedical
factors will not specifically be included on the knowledge test, but the FAA may publish
further guidance to remote pilots on topics such as aeromedical factors and visual scanning
techniques.

AUVSI recommended that the FAA require more extensive knowledge testing than
what was proposed for an operator desiring to fly in Class B, C, D, or E airspace, operate
small UAS for commercial purposes, or operate small UAS beyond visual line of sight with
risk-based approval. The commenter did not, however, specify what should be included in
this more extensive testing, and as such, the FAA is unable to evaluate AUVSI’s
suggestion.

iii. Obstacle Clearance Requirements
The NPRM proposed to include obstacle clearance requirements as an area of
knowledge to be tested on the initial knowledge test to ensure that an applicant for a remote
pilot certificate knows how to avoid creating a collision hazard with a ground structure.
One commenter suggested removing this area of knowledge from the knowledge
test because, according to the commenter, there are no obstacle clearance requirements in
part 107, and therefore, there should be nothing to test. The FAA agrees with this comment
and has removed obstacle clearance requirements as an area of knowledge to be tested on
the initial knowledge test.

The FAA notes that although the test taker will not be tested on knowledge of
obstacle clearance requirements, they will be tested for knowledge of regulations
applicable to small UAS, including the requirements of §§ 107.19(c) and 107.23(a), which:
(1) prohibit operating a small unmanned aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to
endanger the life or property of another; and (2) require the remote pilot in command to
ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other aircraft, people,
or property in the event of loss of control of the aircraft. A small unmanned aircraft flown
in a manner that creates a collision hazard with a ground structure may violate one or both
of these regulations, especially if there are people near the ground structure who may be
hurt as a result of the collision.

iv. Aviation Weather Sources and Effects of Weather on Small Unmanned
Aircraft Performance
The NPRM proposed to test, on the initial and recurrent knowledge test, knowledge
of official sources of weather. The NPRM also proposed to test on the initial knowledge
test whether the applicant understands the effects of weather and micrometeorology
(weather on a localized and small scale) on a small unmanned aircraft operation. The
NPRM explained that knowledge of weather is necessary for the safe operation of a small
unmanned aircraft because, due to the light weight of the small unmanned aircraft, weather
could have a significant impact on the flight of the aircraft.

One commenter recommended the removal of “official” from “official weather
sources,” saying that operation of a UAS calls for assessment of “local” weather
conditions, and, furthermore, that there are no clearly identified “official sources of
weather.” Aviation Management suggested that official sources of weather be excluded
from the recurrent knowledge test.

The FAA agrees with the commenter that there are no specific “official sources of
weather,” and has removed that terminology from this rule. However, the FAA emphasizes
that there are several sources of aviation weather useful to remote pilots. Accordingly,
remote pilots will be required to be familiar with aviation weather products such as the
ones provided by the National Weather Service through Flight Service Stations, Direct
User Access Terminal Systems (DUATS), and/or Flight Information Services-Broadcast
(FIS-B).140 While this rule does not require the use of those sources of weather for planning
flights, aviation weather sources could be a valuable resource for remote pilots that choose
to use them. For example, a remote pilot conducting an operation in an area with quickly
changing weather may wish to access weather information from an aviation weather source
for the most up-to-date weather data to ensure that the small UAS operation will comply
with the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements of § 107.51. The FAA notes
that aviation weather sources include weather data that can be used to evaluate local
weather conditions.141 Because there is no requirement for remote pilots to use aviation
weather products on an ongoing basis, the FAA has removed this area of knowledge from
the recurrent aeronautical knowledge test.

Accordingly, this rule will include knowledge of aviation weather sources and the
effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance on the initial knowledge test.
Additionally, this rule will include knowledge of the effects of weather on small unmanned
aircraft performance as an area of knowledge on the initial training course available to part
61 pilot certificate holders because this is a UAS-specific area of knowledge that is not
included in the training and testing required for a part 61 pilot certificate. The training
course will not include knowledge of aviation weather sources because that is not a UASspecific
area of knowledge.

v. Small UAS Loading and Performance
The NPRM proposed to include weight and balance as an area of knowledge to be
tested on the initial knowledge test to ensure that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate
knows how to calculate the weight and balance of a small unmanned aircraft to determine
impacts on performance. The NPRM noted that in order to operate safely, operators need
an understanding of some fundamental aircraft performance issues, including load
balancing and weight distribution as well as available power for the operation.
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture suggested that the FAA’s proposal
suggests a lack of understanding by the FAA of these lightweight aircraft. The commenter
added that when they place a battery or camera on their aircraft, it is immediately obvious
if something is not balanced.

While the FAA agrees that in some circumstances the effect certain loads may have
on the weight, balance, and performance of the aircraft may be obvious—such as adding a
five pound weight to one side of a 0.5 pound small unmanned aircraft—other weight
distributions and how they affect the balance of the aircraft may be more difficult to
surmise. For example, it may not be intuitive for a remote pilot to determine the effect a
half-pound battery will have when added to a forty-pound aircraft. Additionally, a remote
pilot needs to understand the effect that the added weight will have on the aircraft’s
operation over time. For example, while a small unmanned aircraft may be balanced for the
first few flights after a weight is added, that weight may influence the aircraft over time
such that during later flights the aircraft is no longer balanced and no longer flying safely.
For these reasons, the FAA will include a section on the initial knowledge test
ensuring that a remote pilot applicant understands how to calculate the weight and balance
of a small unmanned aircraft and the resulting impacts on performance. Because small
unmanned aircraft loading is a UAS-specific area of knowledge, the FAA will also include
it on the initial training course that part 61 pilot certificate holders can take in place of the
knowledge test.

vi. Emergency Procedures
The NPRM noted that a small UAS airman may have to deal with an emergency
situation during a small UAS operation. As such, the NPRM proposed to include an area of
knowledge on the initial knowledge test that would determine whether the applicant knows
how to properly respond to an emergency. The NPRM also proposed to include knowledge
of emergency procedures on the recurrent knowledge test because emergency situations
will likely be infrequent and as such, a certificate holder’s knowledge of emergency
procedures may become stale over time. The FAA did not receive adverse comments on
including emergency procedures on the initial knowledge test, and as such, this area of
knowledge will be included on the initial knowledge test.

Turning to the recurrent knowledge test, Aviation Management recommended that
the FAA remove emergency procedures as an area of knowledge covered on that test. The
FAA declines to remove emergency procedures from the recurrent knowledge test. As
discussed in the NPRM, emergency situations will likely arise infrequently, and as such, a
remote pilot’s knowledge of emergency procedures may become stale over time.
Accordingly, including this area of knowledge on the recurrent knowledge test will ensure
that the remote pilot retains the knowledge of how to properly respond to an emergency.
Because this area of knowledge is UAS-specific, it will also be included on the
initial and recurrent training courses that can be taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders
instead of an initial or recurrent knowledge test.

vii. Crew Resource Management
The NPRM proposed to include crew resource management as an area of
knowledge to be tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests to ensure that an
applicant for a remote pilot certificate knows how to function in a team environment, such
as when visual observers are used to assist a remote pilot. In those circumstances, the
remote pilot would be in charge of those observers and therefore need an understanding of
crew resource management.

Several commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, Princeton University, and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued that crew resource management may not be
relevant for all small UAS operations and, as such, should be removed from the knowledge
test. Princeton University added that crew resource management would be an irrelevant
area of knowledge for student operators who will be operating the aircraft at a low altitude,
for a limited distance, on university property, and under the direct supervision of a faculty
member. Electronic Frontier Foundation stated that this area of knowledge is irrelevant for
micro UAS operations.

One commenter suggested removal of crew resource management stating it is
“overkill” and is really just referring to possible communications between the pilot and the
visual observer. If kept, the commenter suggested modifying it to “Crew resource
management as it may pertain to operation of a small unmanned aircraft system.”
The FAA acknowledges that not all small UAS operations will utilize a visual
observer or more than one manipulator of the controls of the small unmanned aircraft.
However, the FAA anticipates that many remote pilots operating under part 107 will likely
use a visual observer or oversee other individuals that may manipulate the controls of the
small unmanned aircraft. In order to allow flexibility for certificated remote pilots to
determine whether or not to use a visual observer or oversee other individuals manipulating
the controls of the small unmanned aircraft, the FAA must ensure that an applicant for a
remote pilot certificate is able to function in a team environment and maximize team
performance. This includes situational awareness, proper allocation of tasks to individuals,
avoidance of work overloads in self and in others, and effectively communicating with
other members of the crew such as visual observers and individuals manipulating the
controls of a small UAS.

The scenario Princeton University provided in its comment is precisely the type of
scenario that would require a certificated remote pilot in command to have an
understanding of crew resource management. The remote pilot in command in Princeton
University’s scenario would be supervising a student who is manipulating the controls of
the small unmanned aircraft. Therefore, the remote pilot in command in that scenario
would need to know how to effectively communicate and guide his or her crew (the
student). In response to Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FAA notes that even remote
pilots operating smaller UAS may choose to use a visual observer or supervise other
manipulators of the controls.

It is not necessary to change the title of this area of knowledge because crew
resource management correctly captures what this area of knowledge will cover. The FAA
also notes that this rule will include crew resource management as an area of knowledge on
the initial and recurrent training courses available to part 61 pilot certificate holders
because this is a UAS-specific area of knowledge.

viii. Determining the Performance of the Small Unmanned Aircraft
The NPRM proposed to include an area of knowledge on the initial aeronautical
knowledge test to ensure that an applicant knows how to determine the performance of the
small unmanned aircraft. Aviation Management suggested that this area of knowledge be
excluded from the initial knowledge test because, the commenter argued, this knowledge is
unnecessary for all small UAS operations.

The FAA will retain determining the performance of the small unmanned aircraft as
an area of knowledge on the initial knowledge test. As discussed in section III.E.6.a.i of
this preamble, the remote pilot in command will be required to conduct a preflight
assessment of the area of operation and ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose
no undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property if there is a loss of positive control. In
order to be able to do that, the remote pilot in command will need to be able to assess how
a small unmanned aircraft will perform in a given operating environment. This area of
knowledge will determine whether an applicant for a remote pilot certificate has acquired
the knowledge necessary to conduct this assessment.

This rule will also include this area of knowledge on the initial training course that
can be taken by part 61 pilot certificate holders instead of an initial knowledge test because
it is a UAS-specific area of knowledge.

ix. Physiological Effects Of Drugs and Alcohol
The NPRM proposed to include the physiological effects of drugs and alcohol as an
area of knowledge covered by the initial knowledge test. The Electronic Frontier
Foundation argued that knowledge of the effects of drugs and alcohol is irrelevant for
micro UAS operations and should not be tested for pilots of a micro UAS.
The FAA disagrees. As explained in the NPRM, there are many prescription and
over-the-counter medications that can significantly reduce an individual’s cognitive ability
to process and react to events that are happening around him or her. This can lead to
impaired decision-making, which could adversely affect the safety of any small UAS
operation. Accordingly, the initial aeronautical knowledge test will include an area of
knowledge to determine whether the applicant understands how drugs and alcohol can
impact his or her ability to safely operate a small UAS.

x. Aeronautical Decision-Making and Judgment
The NPRM proposed to include aeronautical decision-making and judgment as an
area of knowledge tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests. Aviation
Management suggested that this area of knowledge be excluded from the knowledge tests
because this knowledge is unnecessary for all small UAS operations.

The FAA disagrees. As discussed in the NPRM, even though small unmanned
aircraft will be limited to a relatively low altitude by the provisions of this rule, they will
still share the airspace with some manned-aircraft operations. To safely share the airspace,
a remote pilot in command will need to understand the aeronautical decision-making and
judgment that manned aircraft pilots engage in so that he or she can anticipate how a
manned aircraft will react to the small unmanned aircraft. Accordingly, this rule will retain
aeronautical decision-making and judgment as an area of knowledge covered on the initial
and recurrent knowledge tests.

xi. Airport Operations
Noting that some small UAS operations could be conducted near an airport, the
NPRM proposed to include airport operations as an area of knowledge tested on the initial
and recurrent knowledge tests.

Several commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, Princeton University, and
Predessa, argued that airport operations may not be relevant to all small UAS operations,
and as such, should be removed from the knowledge tests. The Electronic Frontier
Foundation argued that this area of knowledge is “clearly irrelevant” for micro UAS flights
conducted far away from airports.

There are over 5,000 public use airports in the United States. As such, the FAA
expects that a number of small UAS operations may take place near an airport. The FAA
also expects that there could be instances where a small unmanned aircraft unexpectedly
ends up flying near an airport due to adverse conditions, such as unexpectedly strong winds
that carry the aircraft toward the airport. In those instances, the remote pilot in command
will need to have an understanding of airport operations so that he or she knows what
actions to take to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft does not interfere with airport
operations or traffic patterns. Accordingly, this rule will retain airport operations as an area
of knowledge tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests.

xii. Radio Communication Procedures
Finally, the NPRM proposed to include radio communication procedures as an area
of knowledge covered on the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

Several commenters, including Princeton University, Predesa, and Aviation
Management, argued that radio communications may not be relevant for all small UAS
operations and as such, should be removed from the knowledge test. Predesa suggested that
the FAA design a new “Class G-only unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small
UAS rating” that, among other things, does not include radio communication procedures as
an area of knowledge that is tested on the knowledge test. One commenter recommended
removal of “radio communication procedures” because there is no requirement for radio
communications of any sort with small UAS operations.

As discussed earlier, the FAA expects that a number of small UAS operations will
take place near an airport. That is why § 107.43 prohibits a small unmanned aircraft from
interfering with airport operations or traffic patterns. Understanding radio communication
procedures will assist a remote pilot in command operating near a Class G airport in
complying with this requirement. Understanding radio communication procedures will
assist a remote pilot in command operating near a Class G airport in complying with this
requirement if that pilot chooses to use a radio to aid in his or her situational awareness of
manned aircraft operating nearby. As described in section 4-1-9 of the Aeronautical
Information Manual, manned-aircraft pilots may broadcast their position or intended flight
activity or ground operation on the designated Common Traffic Advisory Frequency
(CTAF). This procedure is used primarily at airports that do not have an airport traffic
control tower, or have a control tower that is not in operation. Pilots of radio-equipped
aircraft use standard phraseology to announce their identification, location, altitude, and
intended course of action. Self-announcing for arriving aircraft generally begins within 10
nautical miles of the airport and continues until the aircraft is clear of runways and
taxiways. Aircraft on the ground intending to depart will begin to make position reports
prior to entry of the runway or taxiway and continue until departing the traffic pattern.
Aircraft remaining in the pattern make position reports on each leg of the traffic pattern.
Thus, knowledge of radio communication procedures will provide a remote pilot in
command with the ability to utilize a valuable resource, CTAF, to help determine the
position of nearby manned aircraft. As such, this rule will retain this area of knowledge on
the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

xiii. Other Areas of Knowledge Suggested by The Commenters
The NPRM invited comment on whether additional areas of knowledge should be
tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests. In response, the FAA received
comments listing additional areas of knowledge that commenters would like to see on the
knowledge tests. For the reasons discussed below, the FAA will add a section on
maintenance and inspection to the initial and recurrent knowledge tests and the online
training courses. The FAA will not add any other areas of knowledge to the knowledge
tests or training courses.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that the test content
should include awareness of lost-link failsafe procedures, operator development, use of
maintenance and inspection steps and guides, and the characteristics and proper handling of
lithium batteries. The NTSB referred to an April 2006 accident involving a U.S. Customs
and Border Protection unmanned aircraft and encouraged the FAA to review its
recommendations and supporting information stemming from that accident for potential
lessons learned when developing guidance material and specific content for the written
knowledge tests outlined in proposed part 107.

The FAA notes that topics associated with lost-link failsafe procedures will be
covered by the area of knowledge testing an applicant’s understanding of the applicable
small UAS regulations. With regard to maintenance and inspection, the FAA has taken
action by adding maintenance and inspection knowledge test topic area requirements to the
initial and recurrent knowledge tests. The addition of maintenance and inspection
knowledge test topics will consist of small UAS basic maintenance and inspection
knowledge that is common to all small UAS regardless of complexity. An understanding of
maintenance and inspection issues will ensure that remote pilots are familiar with how to
identify when a small unmanned aircraft is not safe to operate, and how to maintain a small
unmanned aircraft to mitigate the possibility of aircraft failure during flight. Although this
area of knowledge will not cover every possible inspection and maintenance method, it will
provide a baseline of knowledge that will be useful to all small UAS remote pilots.
The FAA disagrees with NTSB’s recommendation that the knowledge test include a
topic on the characteristics and proper handling of lithium batteries. Under § 107.36, small
UAS are prohibited from carriage of hazardous materials. When installed in the aircraft for
use as a power source (as opposed to carriage of spares or cargo), lithium batteries are not
considered hazardous material.

NOAA suggested that the knowledge test include questions relating to protecting
and operating in the context of wildlife. The Ventura Audubon Society also suggested that
the FAA test an applicant’s understanding of Federal and State wildlife protection laws.
The FAA is required by statute to issue an airman certificate to an individual when
the Administrator finds that the individual is qualified and physically able to safely perform
the duties authorized by the certificate. See 49 U.S.C. 44703(a) (stating that the
Administrator “shall issue” an airman certificate to an individual who is qualified and
physically capable). Therefore, the FAA cannot deny or delay the issuance of an airman
certificate if an applicant has demonstrated that he or she is qualified and physically able to
safely perform the duties authorized by the certificate. In this case, a remote pilot certificate
with small UAS rating authorizes the holder to operate a small UAS safely in the NAS.
Thus, under § 44703(a), the FAA is required to issue an airman certificate to an individual
who has demonstrated an ability to safely operate a small UAS, and may not require that
individual to also demonstrate an understanding of Federal and State wildlife protection
laws.

The FAA emphasizes, however, that a small UAS operation may be subject to other
legal requirements independently of this rule. A remote pilot in command is responsible for
complying with all of his or her legal obligations and should thus have a proper
understanding of wildlife protection laws in order to comply with the pertinent statutes and
regulations.

Drone User Group Network suggested the following topics for the knowledge test:
the concepts of lift, weight, thrust and drag, Bernoulli’s principle, weight and balance,
weather, situational awareness, safety in preflight, in flight and post flight, battery theory,
radio frequency theory, electrical theory, understanding flight modes, fail-safes, and
aircraft types and limitations

The FAA notes that weight and balance, weather, and preflight requirements will be
tested under § 107.73. The FAA agrees with the commenter that technical topics such as
principles of flight, aerodynamics, and electrical theory may enhance the knowledge and
technical understanding of the remote pilot. However, these topics are not critical subject
areas for safe operation of small UAS. The FAA includes many of these topics in the
curriculum of part 61 knowledge testing because they are critical knowledge areas for
persons operating an aircraft with passengers over populated areas that may need to
respond to an emergency resulting from engine failure, unexpected weather, or onboard
fire. Conversely, small UAS operations take place in a contained area in a light-weight
aircraft that has no people onboard, so these topics are not applicable to the same extent as
they are to a manned-aircraft operation. However, the remote pilot in command should
familiarize him or herself with all of the necessary information to be able to fly the
unmanned aircraft without causing damage to the aircraft.

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association encouraged the FAA to require that
operators be knowledgeable about Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the Aviation
Safety Reporting System (ASRS), which could be used to collect data to support a risk
managed growth of the industry and the integration into the NAS.
The FAA disagrees that SMS and ASRS systems should be covered on the
knowledge tests. Participation in a formal SMS program is currently required only for part
121 operations, which are the largest and most complex manned-aircraft operations
regulated by the FAA. Requiring small UAS to participate in this program would not be
justified considering the fact that the FAA does not require non-part-121 manned-aircraft
operations to have an SMS. Similarly, the FAA will not require testing on ASRS
knowledge because ASRS is not currently required knowledge for part 61 pilot certificate
holders.

k. Administration of the Knowledge Tests and Training Courses
This section discusses how the initial and recurrent knowledge tests and online
training courses will be administered under this rule. Specifically, this section addresses:
(1) the location at which a knowledge test can be taken; (2) the prohibition on cheating and
engaging in unauthorized conduct during a knowledge test; (3) the identification of the test
taker; and (4) retesting after failing a knowledge test.

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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.