Becoming a Certified Remote Pilot: Passing the FAA's Part 107 Exam

Everyone in the United States who flies drones for commercial purposes is required to hold a current Part 107 license from the FAA. Read on for Smart Construction's tips on what you will need to pass with flying colors.

Has the company you work for invested in drone technology? Maybe your job description is changing to include "drone pilot" or you've been “volun-told” to get your Remote Pilot Certificate to become registered as a remote unmanned aircraft system (UAS) pilot under the FAA's Part 107 rule?

You might think, “I’m pretty good at video games," or, “I’ve flown a small drone before…." it's all good, no problem. Then you remember what the FAA does and you get nervous about taking an exam from the Federal Aviation Administration that includes questions that manned aircraft pilots have to get right to get their pilot's licenses. 

Starting Your Part 107 Journey

Once you start investigating the process, you'll quickly realize the FAA's Part 107 isn’t like taking a driving test at the DMV. The interesting part of the FAA Part 107 licensure process is that there is no requirement that you demonstrate proficiency in actually flying a drone.  (You will need to become proficient at actual flying a drone so you don't end up with  “drone wrecker” as a nickname. However, don’t worry, this is easy as well). Instead, gaining a UAS remote pilot license and becoming a Certificated Airman is based solely on your ability to:

  • Understand airspace regulations
  • Read & comprehend controlled airspace reports and weather reports
  • Develop strong map skills to understand sectional charts
  • Practice solid, deductive reasoning

The aeronautical knowledge test has 60 questions. You have two hours to complete all 60 questions, which is more than enough time if you know the content. The test covers a wide range of topics like drone flight operations, National Airspace classifications, drone (UAS) performance, drone laws, radio operations, airport operations, FAA regulations, and weather or micro weather phenomenon.

The test is taken at an approved testing center, currently costs $175 per exam, and a passing grade is 70% or 42/60 answered correctly. If you do not pass on the first attempt, you will be required to wait two weeks and pay to take the exam again.

Passing the Part 107 Exam

Now, many people look at the prospect of missing up to 18 questions while still passing and naturally jump to the conclusion, “Wow, that’s a lot I can miss.” It is a lot of questions you can answer incorrectly, and if you don’t make the effort, you will miss them. Is it easy? No. Is it really hard? No again.

If you browse the FAA's UAS 107 website, they list all sources of regulation information and references to study. The FAA suggests several weeks and many hours of study, which sounds daunting, but they are really trying to encourage would-be remote pilots to put in the effort required to understand the regulations. It can take weeks to study and feel comfortable with the material, but in reality it can take far less time if you have a strong study plan.

To start your studying, search “FAA Part 107” on your favorite search engine. You will find 30-40 websites that offer everything from broad overview information to in-depth practical information on all things related to the Part 107 exam. Do the same on YouTube and you will quickly find numerous links to short or multi-part video tutorials from vendors covering the same information. Make sure you study for the revised 2021 initial exam, as the FAA updated the exam to include more information. Also, verify you are not studying for the renewal or recurrent exam, which is required to renew your license two years after your initial knowledge exam.

Whether you learn visually or from reading, there are multiple options available that cover the necessary Part 107 information. These great resources can quickly alleviate some of that anxiety you might have initially felt about the exam process. The best part of nearly all of these resources is that they are free or low in cost. If you feel it necessary, you can pay for a training class that offers all but certain passing guarantees on the first attempt. After doing a fair amount of studying, take some practice tests to see where you might need improvement. As an example, METAR reports can take some effort to understand. One big tip to help: the FAA is thoughtful enough to give you a reference guide during the exam. Use it, and know it. There are many exam answers right there on that piece of paper! Also, read the question in detail before trying to answer. That cannot be reinforced enough.

"Ok, I feel better now!"

In the end, the FAA Part 107 exam sounds scarier than it is, but some people naturally have test anxiety. Still, the passing rate is pretty high, and you will find numerous help sites available to an up-and-coming drone pilot to study from. Smart Construction has numerous licensed pilots that can help with complicated questions if necessary, but we believe you will do just fine on your own. Also, the licensed drone community operators are more than happy to help out.

Good luck and safe flying!

Helpful Test Links

The links below will give you all you need to get started.

Before the test
After you pass the test

Reach out to the Smart Construction team if you want more information or guidance about passing the Part 107 Exam and starting your own drone program.