Getting Your Part 107 License Is Much Easier Than You Think

| July 18, 2021

Passing your FAA Part 107 test and getting certified as a commercial drone pilot might seem like a difficult or time-consuming process, especially without experience. In fact, it’s much simpler than most people think.

To make it even easier, we created a comprehensive study guide with everything you need to pass the Part 107 test on your first try.

Part 107 Study Guide

Download our study guide now by clicking the link above, or check out this interview with Propeller’s own Mike Scott to hear about his experience earning a remote pilot certificate.

Mike Scott talking about his Part 107 exam

What did you think Part 107 certification was going to be like before you started studying for it?

Since I don’t have a flight background, when I originally considered becoming a certified drone pilot,  I thought it would be relatively challenging. But then I met with a customer who’d taken a couple of project engineers and set ‘em loose—they found a really efficient way to get it done. It took a lot of the anxiety out of taking tests on stuff I didn’t know anything about.

What is the Part 107 certification for?

The Part 107 license is meant to ensure that drone pilots have a basic understanding of what commercial pilots who are not operating a drone are doing in the surrounding airspace. You can get all the information you need in an app on site. But the goal of the Part 107 license is to confirm that you understand the basics in case there’s an issue, or your phone’s not working, or you need to check what airspace you’re in.

Basically, having my Part 107 license means I can operate drones commercially. Whether that’s flying for customers or getting paid to fly, I can now fly a drone legally in proper airspace.

How was the process of registering and sitting down to take the test?

The first step is to establish an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) with IACRA.

Use your new FTN to create an account with the FAA testing website. Once you have an account, you can schedule your time and pick a testing center location. Make sure to bring a government-issued photo ID with you when you go to the testing center.

During the registration process, you can note whether you’ll need specific accommodations during the test, such as extra breaks, a left-hand mouse, or a time extension due to a learning or reading disability.

You’re given two hours for the test, and it’s a total of 60 multiple-choice questions. They put you in a testing room, just like if you were getting your private pilot’s license. You’re monitored with cameras to make sure you’re not doing anything crazy. When you’re done, you know right away if you passed or failed. You only need 70% to pass.

60 multiple-choice test questions sounds like a lot. What was your Part 107 study strategy?

There are free practice tests online. The FAA also has their own study guide, but it’s a little dense compared to the one Propeller’s team put together.

The two biggest things to focus on when you’re studying are keywords and understanding how to read a sectional chart. That was probably the hardest part—making sure you know your key terms and can read a sectional chart pretty well.

What is a sectional chart?

A sectional chart is an old-school way for pilots to navigate different airspaces and hazardous terrain. It’s basically a map that doesn’t require a phone or functioning GPS [image below].

Sectional chart used in aviation

You have to be able to look at that map, understand what airspace is what, and the meanings behind all the different symbols.

So key terms and sectional charts are super important. Is there another topic I should focus on?

Yes—weather. Make sure you can understand METAR reports. Once you get those three components, you’re almost guaranteed to pass.

How many times did it take you to pass?

Once. I studied on a Monday and Tuesday, took the test on Wednesday, and passed. I got an 86%—you only need 70%. And that Part 107 certification lasts for two years before I have to renew.

Once you pass, are you immediately certified to fly your drone?

Not quite. You have to submit your scores by completing FAA Form 8710-13 back in the IACRA system. You should receive an official card in the mail soon after that. I got mine after a couple of weeks.

Out of everything you were tested on, what do you actually use when flying a site?

Knowing to fly 400 feet or lower. Knowing the difference between good airspace and bad. Understanding how close you can fly to buildings or how to report an accident. Those are some of the most important things to know when operating a small unmanned aircraft day-to-day. It’s crucial to know practical stuff that only comes up in extreme situations, like when you can start flying after sunrise. Understanding the “rules of the road” (so to speak) is important. That way, you don’t get in trouble for something you didn’t even know was illegal.

Would you say this test was easier or harder than getting your driver’s license?

Because it’s a little harder on the written side, and it’s stuff we’re not using day-to-day, I’d say it’s a bit harder than the driver’s test. Everyone drives a car. But the Part 107 certification process isn’t overwhelming by any means. Even people who haven’t picked up a book in years can easily pass. I send them the study materials I used, and they usually pass in a week or two.

With all the people you’ve worked with, what’s the biggest concern or fear about getting certified?

I think it’s mostly the time.  People are thinking, “When do I have time to study? It’s been forever since I’ve studied for anything.” And sometimes they have bad test anxiety. But they don’t need to be scared—the whole process is straightforward.

Any last things you think aspiring drone pilots should know about getting their Part 107 certification?

If you’re getting your Part 107 license for general surveying, you don’t have to get into the weeds of understanding every detail of the drone. The drones Propeller recommends literally fly themselves. You’re just there as a failsafe.

So yes, the Part 107 license is a necessary part of commercial drone operation, but don’t get overwhelmed by the false idea that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be breathing down your neck about every detail of your flights. They won’t.And if you need additional assistance, our fantastic team of customer success engineers is available to help get you the resources you need to pass the Part 107 test.

Download our free Part 107 Study Guide today!

Subscribe to The Dirt e-newsletter

Get the latest dirt from Propeller, including industry news, customer stories, webinars, videos, and more.