Part 107

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…………….


TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction)

TFR-drone-temporary-flight-restrictionA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is nothing to play around with. Violations of TFRs can be punished quite severely with a pilot license suspension, civil penalty, or in the worst case: prison time. The FAA has been pursuing enforcement actions against manned and unmanned pilots around the U.S. for TFR violations. In this series of TFR articles, I will help you understand more about each of the TFRs, and give you pro tips based upon my flight instructing experience, so you can pass a knowledge exam and fly safely and confidently.  Also, if you want to create a TFR, get a waiver to fly into a TFR (i.e., sport event filming), or if you accidentally flew in a TFR unauthorized and potentially will be prosecuted by the FAA, contact me.


What is a TFR?

The FAA defines a TFR as “a regulatory action issued via the U.S. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system to restrict certain aircraft from operating within a defined area, on a temporary basis, to protect persons or property in the air or on the ground.” There are different types of TFRs and they are listed out in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). The regulations for TFRs are located in Part 91 and Part 99 which govern manned aircraft operations. For remote pilots, Part 107.47 requires them to comply with all the TFRs located in Part 91 and 99 as well.

How can I tell where a TFR is located?

A TFR is not located anywhere on a sectional chart and can literally temporarily “pop-up” quite quickly. A helpful website is, where the TFR will be portrayed in a picture of an overlay of the TFR on a sectional chart and also described in textual format. The picture will tell you the dimensions while the text will tell you the precise dimensions, altitudes, and times. The dimensions of the TFR are going to be explained by reference to a fixed point. Much of the time, the fixed point is a VOR, but sometimes it can be a random set of coordinates on the map (especially when elected officials are campaigning or fundraising). It is incredibly important to check for TFRs before EVERY flight. You should not rely on a pre-flight briefer over at 1-800-wx-brief to catch the TFR or whether it affects you or not.


You should check before EVERY flight. It breaks the TFRs down into states, chronologically on a list, graphically on a map, FAA ATC centers, and TFR types.

Pro Tip: Never trust the flight briefer. If you are close to a TFR, make sure you check.


Why should you never rely on the briefer?

President Obama came to Ft. Lauderdale when I was flight instructing and a TFR popped up. I called over to 1800WXBRIEF and requested a pre-flight briefing before the flight. The briefer told me about the TFR, but said that I was NOT within the TFR. I didn’t trust him so I checked online for the textual description and measured the TFR out. Guess what? I was right within the edge of the TFR and could not take off. The briefer got it wrong. When I was in the FBO, an airplane took off. In about a minute, the phone rang and the FBO manager answered. The manager talked shortly on the phone. He hung and up and turned to me and said, “That was the Secret Service trying to figure out who just took off.”

Who can go into a TFR?

TFRs are NOT always a complete ban on all types of flying. It just means only authorized individuals can fly in those areas. If you are interested in doing some commercial drone work around TFRs, you can contact me about getting those approvals and COAs.

Keep in mind that doing operations in a TFR can have benefits. One big benefit is for certain types of TFRs the airspace is segregated which means obtaining certain types of approvals could be easier.

How many different types of TFRs are there?

There are 8 different types of TFRs. Each has a different set of facts surrounding why they are issued and who can operate in them. Each of these different types of TFRs will be discussed.

  1. Section 91.137, Disaster/Hazard Areas Temporary Flight Restrictions;
  2. Section 91.138, National Disaster Areas in the State of Hawaii Temporary Flight Restrictions;
  3. Section 91.139, Emergency Air Traffic Rules;
  4. Section 91.141, Presidential and Other Parties Temporary Flight Restrictions;
  5. Section 91.143, Space Flight Operations Temporary Flight Restrictions;
  6. Section 91.144, Abnormally High Barometric Pressure Conditions;
  7. Section 91.145, Management of Aircraft Operations in the Vicinity of Aerial Demonstrations and Major Sporting Events; and
  8. Section 99.7, Special Security Instructions.

Next Page: What type of criminal punishment (prison time) or fines can happen if you fly into a TFR?

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FAA Part 107 Waiver (COW)– What Drone Pilots Need to Know


The FAA understands that not everything will fall neatly into the set of the FAA Part 107 regulations. Sometimes things fall outside of the “box,” but still need to be made safe and legal. The FAA builds into regulations what is called “regulatory flexibility” which can be understood as legal “wiggle room.” There are multiple ways that regulatory flexibility can happen in the regulations: waivers, authorizations, deviations, and exemptions. If the particular regulation you are interested in cannot be resolved by waiver, authorization, or deviation, then the exemption process is all that is left. Since September 2014 until June 21, 2016, the exemption and waiver process was what was being legally used to get drones airborne.

The FAA has wisely built into Part 107 a specific section that lists out what regulations are specifically waivable. An individual applies to the FAA for a certificate of waiver. Many in the industry describe this by using the term COA. This is because the form that is used to apply for a waiver is for a certificate of waiver or authorization. You aren’t getting an authorization, but a waiver so COW would be the most legally correct term – but don’t have a cow over the proper legal term. An unmanned aircraft waiver typically lasts for 4 years and will need to be renewed.

Section 107.205 lists out specifically what regulations are waivable. Below are the waivable regulations and examples of operations that would need this type of waiver.  If you are interested in any type of operation in either list below, please contact me.

The FAA Part 107 Regulations That Can Be Waived:

  • 107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle, boat, or aircraft. Here are operations that will need a waiver from this regulation: 
    • Operating a drone from a moving aircraft.
    • Powerline inspection in populated areas.
    • Pipeline inspection in populated areas.
    • Cinematography or car commercials for TV in populated areas.
  • 107.29 – Daylight only operations. (Article on How to Fly Your Drone at Night or Civil Twilight). Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Search and rescue at night
    • Inspecting roofs using a FLIR camera to spot water damage.
    • Firefighting or law enforcement at night.
  • 107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Beyond visual line of sight operations for mapping, agriculture, search and rescue (but none of these are package delivery of another person’s property.)
    • FPV racing commercially WITHOUT a visual observer.
  • 107.33 – Visual observer.
  • 107.35 – Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • The pilot in command wants to fly two or more drones at the same time.
    • Swarming drones for entertainment like Intel and Disney are interested in.
  • 107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.
  • 107.39 – Operation over people. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • News over crowds
    • Law enforcement monitoring large crowds.
    • Filming concerts or demonstrations.
  • 107.41 – Operation in certain airspace. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Flying in Class B, C, D, or E airspace which is almost always near an airport. Yes, you have to have a COW to operate in these airspaces. I explain this in my FAA Part 107 FAQ page.
  • 107.51 – Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Flying higher than 400ft.
    • Faster than 100MPH
    • Flying in less than 3 statute miles of visibility
    • Flying within 500 ft. below or 2,000 ft. horizontally of clouds.

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Not All Of The Part 107 Regulations Can Be Waived.

Here is a list of things that CANNOT be waived under 107:

  • Operations from a moving aircraft, vehicle, or boat while carrying property of another on the drone for compensation or hire.
    • Amazon and Google package delivery
  • Beyond visual line of sight aircraft operations carrying property of another on the drone for compensation or hire.
    • Amazon and Google package delivery
  • 55 pounds and heavier operations
    • Crop dusting with the Yamaha R-Max
    • Closed-set cinematography using large cameras or dual cameras for stereo filming.
  • Carrying hazardous material.
    • Carrying spare LIPO batteries to other operators. LIPOs NOT in the drone are considered hazardous material.
    • Fireworks
  • Autonomous Operations– No Part 107 remote pilot in the loop.

There are other ways of getting operations in the second list legal. Just because you are in this list doesn’t mean that it is “game over.” Time until approval and associated costs with obtaining the approval are the big two concerns with obtaining approvals in the 2nd list. Some of the operations will be eligible and others not for approval under the Section 333 exemption.

The FAA wants you to apply to get these waivers at least 90 days before you need them. As we saw from the whole Section 333 exemption situation, don’t count on 90 days. Apply well in advance of when you think you will need the waiver.

I hope these two lists help you differentiate between when you can operate purely under Part 107 and when you’ll need to seek approval.

This post is part of an overall Part 107 blog series and you may enjoy a few of these other Part 107 blog posts.

Part 107 Was Slightly Updated – Here Are the Changes.

faa-section-333-exemption-updated(June 24, 2016) – Read Part 107?  Well, the FAA just updated it.

This is part of an overall Part 107 blog series.

Everyone went crazy and jumped on the 624-page document that was released by the FAA located here on June 21st. This large document caused us much anguish as we rapidly read to the end. Well, the first 107 you read…..was updated. The FAA released their Federal Register version located here. But have no fear for have I found the minor updates!

Most of the changes are minor such as § to Section or part to Part. It was interesting to note that the table of contents on page 597 does not list 107.64, but is included. I guess someone forgot to hit the update button on the list?

The title of § 107.39 “Operation over people” was changed to “Operation over human beings.” The FAA explained why they made this distinction in footnote 97 of the old and new, “Title 14 CFR section 1.1 defines ‘person’ as ‘an individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, joint-stock association, or governmental entity. It includes a trustee, receiver, assignee, or similar representative of any of them.’ Because the term ‘person’ is defined in 14 CFR 1.1, part 107 uses the term ‘human being’ in the regulatory text to capture only an individual human being. For readability, the preamble uses the terms ‘person’ and ‘human being’ interchangeably.” However, in 107.205, the FAA forgot to change the title of 107.39 and it still says “Operations over people.”

Two Other Interesting Things About Part 107

I noticed two things about the numbering. If you go to the list on 597, you’ll see most of the regulations end in odd numbers. This is done intentionally to allow for expandability by creating new regulation sections in the even numbers right next to the old. Here is a list of those with even numbers:  107.12, 107.36, 107.64, 107.74, and 107.200.

The second thing I noticed was that certain odd sections were missing. 107.55, 107.75, 107.201, and 107.203. 107.75 was “Military Pilots or former military pilots.”

Have you noticed how this is like some weird drone CSI Miami post? I want to make sure my loyal readers are kept up to date. As always guys, fly safe and when hiring a drone attorney, don’t hire a poser- hire a pilot.

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What Drone Pilots Need to Know About the Part 107 Drone Regulations


pro drone zoneDo you want to be a drone pilot or already are one? This article is written just for you so you can understand what is in the new Part 107 regulations.

Important Documents or Websites:

Important Blog Posts on Part 107:

Quick Summary of Part 107:

The FAA released Part 107 on Tuesday, June 21st. Part 107 provides for individuals to obtain their “Remote Pilot Certificate.” This is interesting as the NPRM called them “operators” but the FAA changed the term to “pilot” now. The big distinction now will be whether you are a Part 61 pilot or a Part 107 pilot.

Part 107 will provide a certificate as well as operating rules for drone operators who do not fall into Section 336 to operate their aircraft in the national airspace. The two main groups that will benefit will be the commercial drone operators and public sector operators.

A large majority of the drone operators will fall into Part 107 which will be line of sight, under 55 pounds, daylight, less than 100 MPH, and below 400ft; however, this is not a complete fix for everyone. Keep reading below to see what will not be covered by 107. I predicted most of the areas in a previous blog post on Aug 29, 2015.

Summary of the Major Provisions of Part 107

Operational Limitations

• At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.

• Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.

• Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.

• Must yield right of way to other aircraft.

• May use visual observer (VO) but not required.

• First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.

• Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).

• Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.

• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.

• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.

• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.

• No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.

• No operations from a moving aircraft.

• No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.

• No careless or reckless operations.

• No carriage of hazardous materials.

• Requires preflight inspection by the remote pilot in command.

• A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.

• Foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft are allowed to operate under part 107 if they satisfy the requirements of part 375.

• External load operations are allowed if the object being carried by the unmanned aircraft is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.

• Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed provided that-

o The aircraft, including its attached systems, payload and cargo weigh less than 55 pounds total;

o The flight is conducted within visual line of sight and not from a moving vehicle or aircraft; and

o  The flight occurs wholly within the bounds of a State and does not involve transport between (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.

• Most of the restrictions discussed above are waivable if the applicant demonstrates that his or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.

Remote Pilot in Command Certification and Responsibilities

• Establishes a remote pilot in command position.

• A person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).

• To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:

o Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either:

– Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or

– Hold a part 61 pilot certificate other than student pilot, complete a flight review within the previous 24 months, and complete a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA.

o Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.

o Be at least 16 years old.

• Part 61 pilot certificate holders may obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon submission of their application for a permanent certificate. Other applicants will obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate upon successful completion of TSA security vetting. The FAA anticipates that it will be able to issue a temporary remote pilot certificate within 10 business days after receiving a completed remote pilot certificate application.

• Until international standards are developed, foreign-certificated UAS pilots will be required to obtain an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

A remote pilot in command must:

• Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the rule.

• Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.

• Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation.

• Ensure that the small unmanned aircraft complies with the existing registration requirements specified in § 91.203(a)(2).

A remote pilot in command may deviate from the requirements of this rule in response to an in-flight emergency.

Aircraft Requirements

• FAA airworthiness certification is not required. However, the remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight check of the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.

Model Aircraft

• Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.

• The rule codifies the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

How to Read the Part 107 Final Rule.

  1. Go and download the latest edition here.
  2. Start on page 590 and start reading. Anytime you have a question about something, make a note and keep reading. The large majority of the whole document is the FAA repeating the comments made to the NPRM and the FAA’s response and rationale for the regulation. Treat it like the FAA’s commentary on the individual regulations.
  3. Anything you have an issue with, use the ctrl + f function in Adobe to find the relative sections that discuss the key term you are interested in.


Anything that is in BOLD and UNDERLINED is different. Anything in [BRACKETS] means I inserted it because there were a few typos that needed clarifying. Small little differences were NOT noted so as to improve readability. This is a comparison of the summary Peter Sachs leaked to the final Part 107.



“Pilots of a small UAS would be considered ‘operators’”Called Remote Pilots
“Be at least 17 years old.”“Be at least 16 years old.”
“Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.”“Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center (or pass this online course, for Part 61 certificate holders).
“Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.”“Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days if the sUAS operation results in serious injury or property.”
“Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.”“Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level.”




For any of the operations listed below, a drone operator could NOT fly purely under part 107’s operating rules but would need to be authorized via a waiver, Public COA, a special Section 333 Exemption, or a SAC/COA combo.  Contact me if you are interested in any of these types of operations.

  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight
    • Power line inspections
    • Search and rescue
  • Night Operations
    • SAR at night
    • Firefighting at night
    • Inspections using thermal equipment in hot environments and night is the best time to use the equipment.
    • Cinematography for TV/movie night scenes
    • Inspections on critical time/sensitive material that require 24/7 monitoring (example: turbidity monitoring for dredging operations)
    • Sports at night.
  • 55 Pounds and Heavier
    • Package delivery
    • Crop dusting
    • Firefighting retardant delivery
    • High-end LIDAR to monitor crops such as lumber. The LIDAR is used to detect the diameter of the wood so the loggers know which forest to harvest first.
    • Cinematography (Dual Red Epics for 3-D filming or full Arri Alexa with lens and a large stack of batteries for extra flight time.)
  • Higher than 400ft and 400ft away from the object.
  • 100 MPH and Faster
    • Survey large areas fast
    • Fast package/medical delivery
  • Operation Over Persons
    • Concerts
    • Live news events
    • Sports
  • Operations from a Moving Vehicle in non-sparsely populated areas.

The change from 500ft to 400ft makes sense in that there is a buffer zone now between drones and fixed-wing manned aircraft. See 14 C.F.R. 91.119 which places fixed-wing aircraft at a minimum of 500ft in non-congested areas. Remember that altimeters for manned aircraft can be incorrect sometimes, especially when going from high pressure to low pressure or high temperature to low temperate. (High to low, look out below.)

Drone law violations

Drone law violations

These regulations are going to set the framework for future enforcement actions. Recently released FOIA documents showed that the FAA has done at least 23 enforcement actions against drone operators. I wrote an in-depth article analyzing those actions. Out of the multiple regulations cited against drone operators that I graphed out, the FAA used traditional regulations from mostly Part 91. It will be interesting to see how things go forward under 107 because in at least two places Part 107 references some ideas that are Part 91 such as where it claims FPV racers cannot see-and-avoid, 14 CFR 91.113 reference, and the prohibition on flying your aircraft in a careless and reckless manner, 14 CFR 91.13. This creates a situation where aviation attorneys defending Part 107 drone operators could look to Part 91 case law interpreting those passages.


In summary, it looks like the FAA has cleared for take-off the drone regulations which will usher in a new era of the drone industry. I hope this summary will help you in making business decisions. Keep in mind that as everyone runs into Part 107, you might want to try to separate yourself from the competition by getting approval for non-107 operations. Contact me if you are interested in those operations. As always my friends, fly safe and when choosing an attorney for help navigating airspace and the regulations, don’t hire a poser – hire a pilot. Why? Posers will keep you grounded – while a pilot will help your ideas soar.



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No, Part 107 Does Not Fix Everything.

The FAA released Part 107 on June 21, 2016.  This post is part of an overall series on Part 107.


Will Part 107 fix all my problems?

Many people mistakenly believe that Part 107 is the answer to all their needs. This is not true as there are certain types of operations that are not covered under Part 107 which leaves individuals, businesses, public agencies to turn to other means of getting the aircraft’s flight authorized such as a waiver, a Section 333 exemption, a Public COA, or a Special Airworthiness Certificate and COA.

Part 107 ALONE does NOT cover:

  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight
    • Power line inspections in those really remote areas
    • SAR
    • Firefighting
  • Night Operations
    • SAR at night.
    • Firefighting at night.
    • Inspections using thermal equipment in hot environments where the best use is in the evenings and night.
    • Cinematography for tv/movie scene at night.
    • Inspections on critical time/sensitive material (example: turbidity monitoring for dredging operations) that need to be monitored 24/7.
    • Sports at night.
  • 55 pounds and heavier
    • Large package delivery
    • Crop dusting
    • Firefighting retardant delivery
    • High-end LIDAR to monitor crops such as lumber. The LIDAR is used to detect the diameter of the wood so the loggers know which forest to harvest first.
    • Cinematography (Dual Red Epics for 3d filming or full Arri Alexa with lens and large stack of batteries for extra flight time.)
  • 400ft and higher, unless you stay within 400ft of the building.
  • 100 mph and faster
    • Survey large areas fast
    • Fast package/medical delivery
  • Operation Over Persons
    • Concerts
    • Live News Events
    • Sports
  • Operations from a moving vehicle over populated areas.


So if you are currently thinking these areas could be potentially beneficial, I would suggest looking into getting approvals for these types of operations because when the competition floods into the market after Part 107 becomes final, these areas will be more profitable. Contact me if you are interested in more information.

As always guys, stay safe and when choosing an attorney, don’t hire a poser – hire a pilot.

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