It’s probably time to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate (again). Yes, that means for the second time.
At least it’s time for me to renew it. And if you’re the kind of person who gets compliant as soon as possible, it’s likely time for you too.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Final Rule on Remote ID, which was released in December 2020 the requirement to complete an in-person, FAA recurrent test every 24 calendar months was replaced with a much simpler requirement: pilots must complete a free, online recurrent training course. the first version of that straightforward and easy course was made available in April 2021 on the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) website for no cost.
So naturally, I signed in back in April 2021 to take part. I, like many of you, passed the Part 107 Small Uas Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots, which is taken through course ALC-677, in April 2021. April 6, 2021, to be exact.
The FAA advises you keep that certificate printed out alongside your airman certificate (which is a plastic, driver’s license-size card) on hand whenever you’re flying drones. That way if someone demands proof of your license (and proof that your license is up to date), you have it readily available.
But taking the recurrent test once is not enough to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate. Under the FAA’s rule, you need to keep your certificate current — which requires going through an online training course every 24 months.
If you went through the renewal course, this is your reminder that the next window to renew is either arriving shortly, or you’ve already passed it.
Don’t worry if you hold a Part 107 remote pilot certificate that has lapsed already. Even if you took the original Part 107 test years ago and haven’t taken the recurrent exam since then (or you missed the recurrent test-taking window), you don’t have to start all over again from scratch with a brand-new written test. Anyone who holds a part 107 remote pilot certificate — regardless of aeronautical knowledge recency — can become current again by taking the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent (ALC-677) online training course at no cost to you. You can take that course here.
What is the recurrent course to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate like?
Carve out some time, as the Remote Pilot recurrent online training is a series of mini quizzes, videos and text that amounts to more than 100 slides. Budget roughly one hour to go through the course, plus 30 minutes to an hour for the test.
Happily, you don’t need to do it all at once. Your progress is saved if you close the window and return to it later (green checkmarks indicate how far along in the course you are).
There are also mini quizzes, a glossary and a separate resource guide — all culminating in the final review and exam. A few notes on taking the exam, which tends to be about 40-50 questions long:
- Unlike the course that you can take in bite-sized time chunks, you must complete the entire exam in one session. If the exam is not completed and graded in 90 minutes or less, you will need to retake the entire exam when you log into the course again.
- You may review course material as you take the test. It’s an open-note test.
- You must get 100% to pass the exam. However, you aren’t limited to one try, so no sweat if you miss some questions.
What is Part 107?
If you’re flying drones commercially (that means you’re making money in some capacity from your flight), then the Federal Aviation Administration requires you hold a Remote Pilot Certificate — commonly referred to as a drone pilot license.
To get a FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, you must pass an in-person, written, UAS test called the Remote Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge Test. The test can be taken at one of the 696, FAA-approved knowledge testing centers in the United States. Here’s a list of locations where you can take the aeronautical knowledge test. Applicants need to schedule the testing appointment in advance and bring a government-issued photo ID.
Most folks without prior aviation knowledge study for the test by enrolling in an online Part 107 test prep course.
Some options for Part 107 online training courses include:
- Drone Pilot Ground School offers a fantastic online training course with practice tests and repeatable videos. This is what I used to study for my test — and I passed on my first time — so I can guarantee it’s a good program! Use coupon code DroneGirl50 to get $50 off. It includes numerous quizzes, a one-page Part 107 study guide, access to weekly newsletters with the most up-to-date news and more.
- Drone Launch Academy offers another great online training course led by FAA-certified Advanced Ground Instructor David Young. Use coupon code DroneGirl50 or this link to get $50 off.
- John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 online training course is taught by a former Air Force pilot and instructor with more than 15 years of teaching experience. He’s one of the best manned aircraft instructors out there, so it makes sense to want to take his digital course on drones.
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