So, you want to be a drone pilot? Well, before you place your hands on a drone control pad, there are a few hurdles you must overcome first.
Let’s face it; drones have tons of applications from commercial to federal use.
For example Amazon Prime Air is setting up a multi operational center to serve its customers in the US and the UK by delivering packages using drones. The federal government wants to keep the borders free from criminals. One of the best ways of monitoring borders is by using drones.
What does this mean? In 5 years time or so, the demand for commercial drone pilots will be at an all time high. As an aspiring drone pilot, it is best to prepare yourself early. As said earlier, before placing your hands on a drone control pad, there are a few hurdles you must overcome. The most important of all is being trained at an approved center. After your training, testing must be done before being certified and licensed.
- Must be at least 16 years old
- Must be able to read, speak, write and understand English
- Must be in great physical and mental condition
- Must pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA approved knowledge testing center
- Must pass TSA security check
Step One – Fulfill other FAA Part 107 requirements
The US Federal Aviation Administration has put in place laws to ensure the safe use of drone. This law went into effect as of August 29th, 2016 and was formulated to not only protect the remote pilot but to ensure the pilot flew the unmanned aircraft vehicle responsibly.
Furthermore, this law protects the existing airspace preventing commercial drone pilots from flying over commercial airports and military zones. You can learn more about Part 107 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations by following this link.
As said earlier, to be certified as a commercial drone pilot, you must be 16 years of age and above. You must also undergo medical checkup to ensure that you are healthy both physically and mentally. This is important as it ensures that you are able to make fast decisions when faced with problems.
Basically, you are supposed to think on your feet. Lastly, pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam provided at the FAA approved knowledge testing center.
Here are more requirements.
Step Two – Apply to an approved UAS or UAV pilot training school
Thanks to increased in demand for commercial drone pilots, several schools have popped up around the country to provide the much-needed knowledge to thousands of candidates. The problem is, locating a drone pilot training school that is well equipped, has well trained and experienced teachers can be a little trick.
The first step to take is to research online. You will come across hundreds of schools, so start sorting them out. The second step requires you to read online reviews written by professionals and those left by customers. This will give you an insight on the drone pilot training school. The third step is seeking references.
This means contacting previous pilot trainees who have been trained and graduated from the school. If this proves to be difficult, contact the FAA to know which training schools are approved.
Here is a drone pilot training school to get you started.
Step Three – Get trained
Each drone pilot ground school has designed a curriculum that helps its trainees learn the basics and advanced techniques finally gaining useful knowledge and skills that can be applied in the business world. For starters, the school may have a drone flight proficiency module designed for beginners.
Instructors will cover the FAA’s 127 knowledge concepts as published in the UAS Airman Certification Standards. You will also learn from drone lawyers and other professionals regarding marketing, legal, business and insurance matters.
At the end of each lecture, students are usually tested. Each quiz will have a bunch of questions grouped into different categories. This is also true at the end of each module. The reason why you have to be tested is to ensure that you have understood what was taught.
To get started, use the following FAA Remote Pilot Study Guide. Some of the subjects you will cover include:
- Applicable regulations
- Airspace classification, operating requirements and flight restrictions
- Aviation weather sources
- Effects of weather on Small unmanned aircraft performance
- Small unmanned aircraft loading procedures
- Emergency procedures
- Crew Resource management
- Radio communication procedures
- Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
- Physiological factors including drugs and alcohol affecting drone pilot performance and much more.
Step Four – Get tested at the closest Knowledge Testing Center
Yes, by now you have jumped several hurdles but don’t worry, you are closer to becoming a certified commercial drone pilot. To apply to a Knowledge Testing Center, schedule an appointment. The Knowledge Testing Center or KCT is mandated with the responsibility of administering initial and recurrent FAA knowledge exams. As an applicant, present a government issued photo ID on arrival.
Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test. Test areas include applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations and flight operations. Others include airspace classification, operating requirements and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation among others.
Here is a list of FAA approved Knowledge TestingCenters.
Step Five – Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate
Once you have passed the Knowledge Testing Centers exams, apply for a remote pilot certificate. To do so, register via FAA ICRA system. Click on “Start New Application”, select “Application Type “Pilot” then Certifications “Remote Pilot” followed by other Path Information before selecting start application.
Be patient with this process and follow the prompts. One prompt will request you to enter a 17 digit Knowledge test exam ID. Once you are done, sign the application electronically and submit the e-form to the Registry for processing. You can also opt to apply through a written application.
A confirmation email will be sent declaring that you have passed the TSA check. In the email, find instructions for printing your remote pilot certificate. If all other FAA internal processing checks are approved, your permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via email.
Voila! Now, you are a commercial drone pilot. Next step, start applying for jobs and earn an income.
Good luck and fly safely!