The rules for law enforcement drone use changed dramatically and for the better. On June 21st, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) announced the highly anticipated Part 107 rule that will be enacted August 29th, 2016 (Updated, org. Aug. 1st). Since its announcement, numerous questions have arose in the law enforcement community as to the impact. Although new information is being published by FAA daily, here are the most up-to-date answers to the top questions:
1. Is a manned-pilot's license still required to fly a drone?
In short, no. Using the correct term for pilots license, airmen's certificate...it will not be required to pilot a drone. However, a remote pilot certificate will be required.
2. I already have a pilot’s license, do I need anything else?
It depends. If you will be operating drones under an existing COA (certificate of authorization) or 333, you can still abide by the specific parameters set forth under those exemptions. However, if you will be utilizing FAA Part 107…an abbreviated version of a remote pilot certificate will be required.
Update- Existing pilots can now take an online course and test for the remote pilot certificate. Click here for details
3. Is training still required for drone flight?
Outside of any legal requirement, training is always highly recommended prior to any drone operations. For the Part 107, training is not directly required, but instead a test of competency covering drone operations and air space navigation must be completed at an FAA testing center.
4. We’ve been considering obtaining a COA for our agency, should we continue to pursue it?
Of course, the decision as to whether or not to pursue a COA is totally up to the agency. To aid in that decision making, the simplest way to think about a COA vs. a Part 107, is that the Part 107 is in essence a driver’s license. Whereas the COA is a blanket license for the agency, and the agency can self-certify pilots. In my personal opinion, the COA still fits very well for agencies that are looking to fully develop a drone program that will be ongoing, and that may have several different participants over the years. For an individual’s officers perspective, I would prefer to have a Part 107 remote pilot certificate so that I may work with drones inside, or outside of the agency.
5. Where can I take a class for a Part 107 remote pilot certificate?
To date, the FAA has not published where and how training will be conducted. However, the industry anticipates training will be offered online in a similar fashion to other Federal training programs. For further information, please check the FAA’s site often as it is being daily updated with new information. Specifically, pay close attention to https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/ as this page will likely be the first with training guides.
Update - As of August 2nd, FAA has not released any online training. However, they have released the testing standards which reference the question sources, and a sample test.
6. Where can I take the test for a Part 107 remote pilot certificate?
Testing for Part 107 remote pilot certificates will be issued at current FAA testing centers. Click here for locations.
7. What will be covered in the test?
Drone regulations, airspace navigation, weather, drone payloads and performance, crew management, radio procedures, effects of drugs and alcohol, aeronautical decision making, airport operation, maintenance and preflight inspections.
8. Is a background check required?
Yes. Prior to receiving a remote pilots certificate, a TSA background check must be completed.
9. How long is a Part 107 remote pilot certificate valid for?
Once you’ve received a remote pilot certificate, it is valid for two years.
10. How much will a remote pilot certificate cost?
More information will be available soon, but the FAA anticipated cost for testing is $150.
11. I have more questions, where can I get more information?
You are more than welcome to contact the MAXSUR team at any time. Our team currently holds an FAA 333 exemption, and although not required…everyone on our team will undergo Part 107 training and testing. Along the way, we’ll be more than happy to assist you and your agency. Additionally, make sure you’re on the MAXSUR.com mailing list, and stay tuned to FAA.gov
Update - The FAA now has an excellent FAQ page for Part 107 & remote pilot certificate questions. Please visit by clicking here
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