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Top FAQ’s on UAS/Drones (Part 1)

With the explosion of the drone market or the more formal term, unmanned aircraft systems, we asked Travis LeMoine, our Emerging Tech Director and Drone expert to put together the following FAQ’s.

1.  Is a pilot’s license still required to fly a drone? 

A:  A license to fly a manned aircraft is not needed, as it was under the previous method to fly a UAV (section 333 exemption).  Currently, you need a UAS Remote Pilot Certificate.

2.  How do I obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate?

A: You need to pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test for small UAS, complete some forms, and pass a TSA background check.  The test itself is taken at a licensed FAA testing center.

3.  How hard is the test?

A: It has an approximate 90% pass rate, so it’s not too bad.  I will say I found it to be slightly more difficult than the Sport Pilot exam I took a bit before the UAS exam.  My score was 3-4 points lower, and there were a couple questions I was somewhat surprised to see on a UAS test (though not unreasonable).

4.  How much time is involved in this process?

A: I’ve heard of complete novices investing a solid work day to self-study and passing without an issue and I’ve also heard of many people taking a several day course.  It depends on how well you can study the material and your individual learning style.  There are also some online at-your-own-pace courses out there now that I’m hearing good things about.  I’ve got a couple coworkers that have volunteered as guinea pigs for the online study option, so hopefully I’ll have more info on that soon.  After studying, the test can take a maximum of two hours to take and you’ll wait a few days to a few weeks to pass the TSA security check.  You’ll get a paper certificate to use for until the card shows up in a few weeks- months.

5.  Where can I go for more info?

Check out the FAA’s guide on becoming a drone pilot for more info on the whole process.

Please email [email protected] if you have any more questions.


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