This guide will show you how to get a Drone License and start flying your first drone. Bear in mind that FAA’s new drone rules for commercial use are pretty strict. Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to walk through the process stress-free.
You could use your drone for aerial photography and then sell your photos or you could do real estate tours along with a fast food delivery system for you local restaurant. Realistically speaking, you could make a decent amount of money while flying your drone and having fun at the same time.
Unfortunately, drone businesses are not legal in the United States of America unless you get permission from the US government. But there is another way: you can get your own license for flying a drone under the new rules introduced by the FAA.
The FAA announced that from August 29 onwards anyone would be able to apply for a drone license by taking (and passing) a multiple choice test. Along with that, an individual would have to pay a small fee for the privilege.
The best part? You don’t need to have any prior experience with flying drones to get a license.
Can You Sell Your Drone Photos Online or Anywhere?
Sadly, no. In fact, if you try to do so then you turn the risk of getting fined a massive $1100 for flying a drone for businesses activities without government approval.
Explain the Remote Pilot Certificate?
It is basically the official name for a drone license. If you have one then you can fly a drone anywhere you want, with or without the intention of doing business and making a profit, legally.
You can sell your drone images, deliver goods or do anything else that can be done with a drone.
Of course, you will have to follow some rules when you fly.
We’ll go to those rules later in the article.
Can’t I Just Fly For Fun?
Yes, you can but you can’t do any business while flying for fun. That doesn’t mean you won’t have to register your drone.
If your drone weighs over 0.55lb then you need to register it. You can do that here
With that said, don’t’ forget that you will still need a certificate if you are a drone racer. Drome racers aren’t exempt from the Remote Pilot Certificate.
So How Do I Get My License Since I Want To Make Money
Well, you need to,
- Be at least sixteen years old
- Must have a valid government approved picture ID. That ID should also have your name, address, and your original signature.
- Schedule for a test at a test center near your location. Go here for that.
- Pay a small fee of $150 to the firm that takes your test
- Prepare for the test
- Pass the given test
- Look at your test score 48 hours after you have given your particular test
- Use your code from your passed test as a form of proof to apply for your drone license.
- Have your TSA background check completed within allotted time
- Get your temporary Remote Pilot Certificate by printing out the online version. You’ll get your real certificate delivered by mail.
- Register your drone and fly away
You may think that all these steps may take you ages but if you break them down into small steps, it will be a lot easier for you to follow the process.
What’s The Process Of Getting An Appointment For Drone License?
You must submit an online request form to one of the two organizations that supervise the drone license tests. You can also email them or call them to accomplish the same task.
Remember that you don’t need to call the test center. They can’t help you as such.
For CATS (Computer Assisted Testing Service),
- call 1-800-927-4228.
- Then press 3
- After that go through the online registration process and pay the fee.
CATS will normally contact you within 24 hours to schedule a test.
And remember that CATS service is available Monday to Friday 5:30 am PT to 5 pm PT. For Saturday and Sunday, the timing is from 7 am PT to 2 pm PT.
For PSI (LaserGrade),
- Call 1-800-211-2753
- Press 1 two times
- Email [email protected]
- Fill out and submit an online request form here.
The timings are: Monday to Friday, 5 am PT to 5pm PT and 5 am PT to 2 pm PT on Saturdays and Sundays.
PSI will usually contact you within two business hours.
CATS and PSI will process your application and will assign you a test center after the companies accept your $150 payment.
In other words, you won’t have to do a thing after the request form and the fee payment.
How Long Would It Take?
It depends on the area where you are living. But generally, you should expect your test date to be within three to four weeks of your online form submission date.
How To Know If There Is a Test Center Near My Location?
There are more than 680 test centers in the US so there is a good chance that you have one near you.
Check out this PDF for a full list of official test centers.
Do remember that you will need to call PSI or CATS to get your test date.
Even though the FAA website tells you to just walk into the test center on test day, some test centers such as the ones in San Francisco Bay Area suggested that it was better if candidates arranged everything with their particular company (PSI or CATS) before coming for the test.
Will I Pass The Drone Test?
It depends on you.
Can you answer 60 multiple choice questions within two hours?
Don’t sweat it too much. You only need to get 70 percent of the questions right in order to pass the test.
In other words, even if you mess up 18 questions on the test, you can still make it.
But we would advise you to study hard for the test as the questions aren’t expected to be easy ones.
How Hard Is The Test Really?
- According to 14 CFR part 107 the remote pilot-in-command (PIC) of a small unmanned aircraft planning to
operate within Class C airspace
A. must use a visual observer.
B. is required to file a flight plan.
C. is required to receive ATC authorization.
PLT161 / UA.II.A.K1b General airspace: Class C controlled airspace
Did you get that one right?
You can find the full list of sample questions here.
How To Prepare For A Drone Test?
There is also a guide you can study to bring you up to speed.
If I Pass The Test, Where Should I Apply For The Certificate?
Well, first you need to register here and fill out the form with your personal details.
You don’t need to provide Airman Certificate Number and Date of Issuance.
Then you need to log into the official website and use your own username and password.
After that, apply here for your certificate. Select Pilot for the drop down menu options and then select Remote Pilot certification option.
If for some reason you don’t know what to do then consult this helpful guide.
If I Have My Certificate, Can I Fly A Drone Anywhere and at Any time?
No, you can’t.
You will need to follow a host of rules regarding where and when you can take your drone for a ride.
If you didn’t apply for a 107 waiver months before your test then you can’t fly your drone,
- At night
- Over the heads of people
- Higher than four hundred feet
- To a place where you can’t see the drone physically with your eyes
- At speeds greater than 100 MPH
- While inside a moving vehicle or from the inside of a stationary one.
- Near an airport. Actually, you can’t fly it anywhere within a five-mile radius of any airport unless you clear your drone with air traffic controls. There is an upcoming new feature for it though. Check it out here.
As mentioned before, you will also need to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds.
You will also have to do pre-flight checks and report incidents where you might have injured someone. You will also have to report accidents where you damage a property worth more than $500.
What To Do If My Drone Weighs More Than 55 Pounds?
You’re basically out. Not even a 107 waiver can save you.
The only thing you can do is get a 333 exemption which is extremely hard to do and takes a considerable period of time. It also requires a pilot’s license.
Sorry, but no one told you to get out there and fly a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds.
Do I Need A Certificate If I Have Section 333 Exemption?
If you’re flying the drone for business purposes then it will hard for you to fly your drone on a section 333 exemption.
Unless you’re a licensed pilot, your options are pretty limited here too.
Of course, the Remote Pilot Certificate is always an option.
How About If I Already Have A Pilot’s License?
For acquiring a Remote Pilot Certificate, you should skip the knowledge test and directly take the online training course.
Of course, you will still need to fill out a form and make an appointment.
You will also be required to have a finished flight review from the past two years.
Here is a guide that will certainly help you acquire a drone license if you already have a pilot’s license.
What Are Some Sample Drone Businesses?
According to the FAA, you can legally ship packages through the use of your drone but given the set of rules you’ll have to follow, it will be extremely difficult.
First you’ll need to keep the drone within eyesight and of course, you’ll need to keep the drone’s weight down to less than 55 pounds.
Can A Journalist Use Drone For Breaking News?
Don’t bet on it.
Remember, the rules don’t allow you to fly over people without special permission. And worse, those waivers will take months before FAA approves then.
However, the FAA does allow media organizations to use a drone if you’re not broadcasting live or, again, flying over people.
If I Have Video Goggles And Attach A Camera To My Drone, Do I Still Need To Watch The Drone With My Own Eyes?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: it can be you or your buddy who can see the drone with his/her eyes.
Hey, don’t blame us. That’s what the FAA says.
Which Drone Is Best For Me?
Well, it depends on your background. If you have never operated on a drone before then you’re better off with a toy drone.
It is easier to learn the basics on a toy drone with which you can’t really hurt people or any property.
Plus, if you do mess up you won’t have to buy another $1000 plus flying machine again.
If you have the budget and the experience, then you can always go for the phantom IV which is the most complete drone available in the market today.
You can also go for its previous model, which has been very well received by the drone community, DJI Phantom III.
You need to think long and hard about the whole process. You may even want to insure the drone you’re going to fly against any damages.
It’s not a bad idea to protect yourself against any liability as well.
Practice your flying and camera skills before you go out job hunting.
And remember, the Remote Pilot Certificate is only valid for two years. After your license expires, you’ll need to sit through another test in order to renew your license.