You may have heard that the FAA recently made a few updates to Part 107. These included requirements for drone operations over people, over moving vehicles, and at night, as well as remote identification. You may also have heard that the FAA introduced a new method for drone pilots to renew the currency of their Part 107 remote pilot certification.
This is good news! The FAA’s new online recurrent knowledge training is free, relatively quick, and no longer requires a trip to an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. And while first-time pilots will still need to follow the current process for Part 107 certification, subsequent renewals will be easier than before.
Step by step: How to complete the FAA’s Part 107 recurrent knowledge training
To access the FAA’s recurrent knowledge training, follow these steps:
- Go to the FAA Safety Team website at www.faasafety.gov
- Log in or create an account. (If creating an account for the first time, be sure to select “Yes” when asked “Do You Hold a Current Airman Certificate?” Then enter your UAS certification information on the following page.)
- For drone pilots holding only a Part 107 remote pilot certificate, locate and enroll in the course “Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots.” (Traditional pilots holding a Part 61 certificate may instead enroll in the course “Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent – Part 61 Pilots”)
- Take the course, which should require about 2 hours to complete.
- Upon completing the course, take the knowledge exam within the course.
- Upon passing your knowledge exam, print your course completion certificate.
- Every time you fly, carry your original certification and most recent course completion certificate as proof of your knowledge currency.
Note: Certification requirements for traditional Part 61 pilots have not changed. For more information, see the FAA’s information for existing Part 61 holders.
Let’s take a closer look at the new online Part 107 training and knowledge check.
What are the Part 107 requirements for knowledge recency?
Once you’ve obtained a Part 107 remote pilot certificate, it technically never expires. However, the FAA requires drone pilots to maintain knowledge currency every 24 months. If drone pilots do not have current knowledge training, they are not permitted to fly under that certificate.
While the renewal process used to require retaking an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center, drone pilots can now fulfill this requirement by completing the FAA’s online training course called “Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots” at FAASafety.gov. This course is free of cost and takes approximately 2 hours to complete.
Compared to studying for my initial certification, I found that the recurrent training sections were considerably shorter. At the end of each section, there are a few short quiz questions to check my knowledge. Overall, it was a good reminder course, but not a substitute for comprehensive initial training.
Does the new knowledge training from the FAA require an exam?
To receive credit at the end of the FAA’s training, students are required to take an online multiple-choice exam. The exam is 45 questions long and must be completed within 90 minutes. Notably, the recurrent exam must be completed with a score of 100%.
If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry: it’s an open-book test! The exam explicitly says, “You may review course material as you take the test.” Of course, Skyward strongly recommends understanding and internalizing the course content before taking the exam. After all, the point is to refresh your memory on Part 107 so you can operate safely and in a compliant manner. But if you’re stumped by an exam question, you are permitted to look back at the course content.
Personally, I experienced an error after completing the course, and was unable to access the exam right away. Fortunately, I was able to log in again and quickly click through the course, which enabled me to access the exam.
Is there any new content in the FAA’s recurrent knowledge training?
Yes, there is. In addition to a few smaller topics, the FAA added training content for drone flights at night, over people, or over moving vehicles. In fact, the FAA requires all drone pilots to complete their initial or recurrent certification after March 16, 2021, before flying these types of operations without a waiver.
I found the FAA’s new resources on “Civil Twilight and Night Operations” to be particularly interesting. In addition to explaining the new requirements for night flights, this section also included best practices for flying in darker conditions, such as not to look directly at the drone.
The training course also added information about Remote ID requirements. While this information is interesting and important, Skyward anticipates that most commercial drone pilots will not be significantly affected by these requirements until 2023.
How do I show that my Part 107 knowledge is current?
After completing the training and passing the exam, be sure to print your completion certificate. It is the pilot’s responsibility to have their remote pilot certificate on hand whenever flying a drone, and the FAA also recommends carrying your most recent knowledge training results. If questioned, those documents can prove your knowledge recency.
Skyward offers Part 107 training and resources
If Part 107 requirements seem overly complicated, don’t worry. Skyward’s Professional Services team offers in-person and online training for corporate drone teams. We help companies launch drone programs and equip pilots with the equipment, software, and knowledge they need to get started.
And if you’re looking for more information on Part 107, check out Skyward’s freshly updated guide: Navigating Part 107. It includes the latest information on Remote ID, new operating requirements, and other areas of Part 107.