So you want to make money with your drone? That’s great, but the FAA’s Part 107 exam (which you now need to pass if you want to legally fly for business purposes) might be a little harder than you were expecting. It’s almost definitely a whole lot better than the previous, expensive and time-consuming system of applying for a Section 333 exemption. But that doesn’t mean this is a walk in the park.
Thinking about taking the test and qualifying as a commercial pilot? You’re not the only one. On Monday 29th when the rule was put into practice, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that over 3,000 people had already registered to take the Part 107 exam.
So what does it take to become a fully-fledged commercial pilot? Well, just as you need to pass a written test to get your driving license, the FAA now require all commercial pilots to complete a multiple choice exam. The test has 60 questions on a range of topics (more on that later) and you’ll have to score at least 70% to pass.
42 out of 60 seems pretty reasonable. So what exactly are you going to be tested on in the Part 107 exam? Well that’s a question with a big answer. The topics laid out by the FAA are wide-ranging to say the least. They are:
- Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
- Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
- Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
- Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
- Emergency procedures
- Crew resource management
- Radio communication procedures
- Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
- Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
- Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
- Airport operations
- Maintenance and pre-flight inspection procedures
At a glance, that’s a lot of bases to cover. To be honest, you probably need to flick through the FAA’s extremely concise 87-page study guide – just to get you started, that is. You could even read the entire ruling, along with all of the commentary from the FAA, which only runs to around 624 pages. Bedtime reading, anyone?
Read more: Our interview with Kim Wheeler – How to pass the Part 107
The bottom line then? It’s probably best to take this exam more seriously than you would your driving theory test. It’s not something, and nor should it be, that you’re going to be able to pass without a good amount of study.
But even after all of the research and hard hours of study; after all the careful consideration of cartography, in-flight awareness and Morse code, you might find yourself on the end of a classic FAA curveball. Take a look at the question below, which was taken straight out of the sample exam.
If you don’t quite make the grade then you can take the Part 107 exam again after a 14-day cooling off period. You’ll probably need that time to think seriously about where it all went wrong, and maybe go through those pesky radio communication procedures some more.