As of 2021, all drone operators — no matter your reason for flying or your use case — need to pass a test in order to legally fly most drones in the United States. For commercial drone operators, there’s a fairly intricate test where you’ll ned to prove specific knowledge of the airspace, referred to as the Part 107 test, that you’ll need to pass. For hobbyists, it’s a much simpler, common sense-esque test called TRUST. And if you, your business or organization has an interest in becoming a certified TRUST administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration just opened a rare opportunity for you.
The FAA this month opened its application period, allowing entities interested in serving as administrators for The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), to apply to become one. This is only the second time that the FAA has opened such a window. And the window is relatively small; potential test administrators must submit their applications by Nov. 11, 2022.
So what types of parties apply to become a certified TRUST administrator? It’s typically existing entities that already work closely with recreational pilots, such as educational institutions, manufacturers and aeromodelling organizations. A school drone program might offer TRUST to their students, or a drone maker might build a streamlined way for customers to pass TRUST upon purchase of a new drone.
Applying to become a certified TRUST administrator
So how do you apply? If interested, first review the selection criteria on the FAA’s website. There, you’ll find resources like the TRUST Memorandum of Agreement and the Application Checklist. That gives information on what your information needs to contain and how to submit it (spoiler, applications must be submitted via email to: 9-AVS-RecFlyer-Test-Admin@faa.gov).
If accepted, you’ll be notified likely by December 2022, and expect to go through onboarding with the FAA through February 2023.
The FAA said it plans to announce selected test administrators in March 2023. From there, those certified TRUST administrators will likely be able to begin offering the test to recreational drone pilots by that point.
What to know about TRUST
TRUST launched in 2021, and passing it is a requirement for anyone flying under Section 44809, which is those who are recreationally flying drones (as opposed to folks who are flying for commercial purposes or otherwise making money off their drone flights).
TRUST is not just a test, but some programming to ensure you are learning the material. Exact content and presentation varies by administrator, but typically you can expect to go through an online course that takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. Most providers include a written test at the end of the hour training (and happily, most allow for unlimited attempts to pass).
Upon passing your Recreational Drone Pilot Safety test, you’ll receive a completion certificate which you should print out and keep with you when you’re flying.
Existing, certified TRUST administrators out there already include (there are more than a dozen in total):
The first (and only prior) time that the FAA called for applications to become certified TRUST administrators was back in February 2021, ahead of the official test launch.
No matter who the administrator is, all TRUST tests themselves are required to be able to be free to take. Though, providers can charge for other training course, such as wrapping up a Pat 107 course with it, or including an in-person flight lesson, which might make it appear to cost some money. Just understand that you are legally able to take the TRUST itself for free — and if someone is trying to charge you, then it’s a scam.
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