Obtaining Your Part 107 UAS Certificate

We have been keeping a low profile the past few weeks since our last update on Part 107 in order to focus our efforts on obtaining our own Part 107 RPA Certificate.  For those unfamiliar with the process there are two distinct paths towards obtaining your Part 107 Certificate.

If you already possess an FAA Airmen Certificate, the process is much simpler if you do not.  Anyone who has a Pilot Certificate and current Flight Review can log on to www.faasafety.gov and take the FAA Safety Team’s online UAS Course and Course Exam.  After completing the FAA’s online course and exam, you can then print out your graduation certificate and then submit your paperwork via the FAA’s Integrated Airmen Certification and Rating Application IACRA website.

Please note that there are two distinct ways the FAA will process your paperwork. if you already hold your Pilot’s License the process is much simpler than if you do not.  You have the choice of using a traditional paper FAA 8710 Application or using the FAA’s IACRA Website.  However, going via a paper application may result in a delay in obtaining your Part 107 Temporary Certificate since it must be mailed in.

The FAA  is strongly encouraging the use of IACRA for application submissions.  An FAA Flight Standards District Office, FAA Designated Pilot Examiner or Airmen Certification Representative can issue a Temporary Part 107 Airmen Certificate to an applicant on the spot.  Therefore we decided to set an appointment with our local Flight Standards District Office in order to obtain our Temporary Certificate right away.

Our appointment was set at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2016, the first day the FAA officially implemented Part 107.   We made certain we had our credentials in order and arrived at 8:05 AM, slightly early but due a slight overcompensation for anticipated heavy traffic in the city of our local FAA District Office.

The process is similar to obtaining an FAA Issued Airmen Certificate.   There is currently no Flight Time requirements for the Part 107 Certificate, so the application is issued on the basis of completing the required course.  Therefore, you must bring a Government issued Photo ID such as a Passport or Driver’s License, proof of a current Flight Review, and your FAASafety.gov course completion certificate.

We met with Greg Muse, our local FAA UAS contact person and began the process of completing our application via IACRA.  Mr Muse was quite friendly and helpful during the process and despite a couple computer glitches managed to get our application processed in a timely and efficient manner.   We were the first Part 107 UAS applicant processed by our local FAA Flight Standard’s District Office, and the process went quite smoothly despite the learning curve for us both.

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All told the process took just under an hour and we walked out of our local FSDO with our temporary certificate in hand.  We cannot say enough about how helpful Mr. Muse was throughout the process, and look forward to conducting our operations in a safe and professional manner.

For those who do not already hold an FAA Pilot Certificate the process is a bit more complicated.  Here is the text in Bold from the FAA’s Part 107 Certification Website.  Our comments will follow in Italics.

Pilot certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process

    1. Schedule an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center (KTC), which administer initial and recurrent FAA knowledge exams
      1. View the list of Knowledge Testing Centers (PDF) to find one near you.
      2. Applicants must bring government-issued photo ID to their test
    2. Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test – initial knowledge test areas include:
      1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
      2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
      3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
      4. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
      5. Emergency procedures
      6. Crew resource management
      7. Radio communication procedures
      8. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
      9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
      10. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
      11. Airport operations
      12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
    3. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
      1. Register using the FAA IACRA system
      2. Login with username and password
      3. Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
      4. Follow application prompts
      5. When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID (NOTE: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
      6. Sign the application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.
    4. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.
    5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

* Applicants who do not wish to complete FAA Form 8710-13 online may choose the paper process. Please note that the processing time will be longer if a paper application is used since it requires in-person approval and signature by a designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI), and must then be mailed to a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for final review and signature. Additionally, a temporary remote pilot certificate will not be provided to the applicant.

Instructions for completing the paper application process may be found in Chapter 6, Section 4 of the Part 107 Advisory Circular.

As can be seen, the FAA Part 107 Knowledge Test process is a lot more involved for Non Pilot Certificate holders than it is for already licensed pilots.  You can expect to pay around $150 for the Knowledge Test and will also be required to pass a TSA Background Check before any Temporary Certificate can be printed from the IACRA Website. 

We will continue to update this website as more information about the process becomes available, but as Part 107 officially went into effect today, the path is now clear for those wishing to path to legally operate Drones commercially.

Those wishing to obtain their Part 107 Certificate in the area covered by the Birmingham FSDO can set an appointment with Mr. Greg Muse, who can be contacted by phone at 205-876-1329.  Please note that FAA FSDO visits are by appointment only, so please call to set yours in advance when you have your credentials in order.