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What Is a Commercial drone license and Part 107 License? Who Needs One?
A commercial drone license is called a part 107 license. As even a casual drone pilot, you’ve surely heard of the Part 107 license. Maybe one of your drone buddies mentioned trying to earn theirs and that now has you curious. Why do you need a Part 107 license? What does it do?
A Part 107 license allows you to use your drone for commercial (or money-making) purposes. The license is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA and includes a testing portion you must pass. It’s good for two years.
Want to learn more about a Part 107 license so you can decide if it’s something you want to obtain? Curious what it takes to earn the license? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain everything there is to know about a Part 107 license.
What Is a Part 107 License? Who Needs It?
According to Part 107 of the Small UAS Rule through the FAA, if you own a drone and want to earn money using it, you need a Part 107 License. Operating your drone in this commercial capacity is different than flying it recreationally, in which you need no license.
What kinds of jobs can you do with your drone to bring in an income? This is a topic we’ve discussed at length on this blog. Here’s one such post about the best uses for drones and here’s another about who hires drone pilots.
Taking the information from both those posts, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the various money-making ventures you could pursue with a quality drone. They are as follows:
- Covering sporting events
- Surveying the land for farming, environmental, or construction work
- Filming scenes in movies and television shows
- Scoping out properties for insurance company claims
- Photographing and videoing properties for real estate firms
- Capturing news footage for news agencies
- Assisting in rescue missions
- Providing security
- Cleaning windows so people don’t have to
- Delivering food and other products
- Entering caverns, mines, and other tight areas to check oil, gas, and mineral reserve levels
- Conducting military planning and surveillance
While it does take experience and a solid resume to begin working in one of the above roles, having a Part 107 license is the first step to success.
Who Can Get a Part 107 License?
Since you’re using a drone so regularly with commercial work like the above, there are certain restrictions set in place by the FAA about who can obtain a Part 107 license.
First, you must be 16 years old at the very youngest. You also have to be in a stable mental and physical state, stable enough that you’re not a risk when you operate your drone. You must have a very strong understanding of the English language as well, with the capability to write it, speak, it, and read it.
If you meet the above requirements and you can pass the testing portion of the licensure, then you can soon begin making money with your UAV.
How Do You Get a Part 107 License?
That brings us to another question you likely have on your mind. How do you get your Part 107 license? There are several steps or phases you have to follow, so let’s talk more about these now.
Setting up Your Appointment
The first part of the process entails you selecting a Knowledge Testing Center in which to take your FAA-issued test. You can check out this page to search for a testing center in your neighborhood. Every state should have at least one testing center, with many offering more than one.
Once you find a testing center in your neck of the woods, you need to get in touch with the staff there. Set up a time to come in and test for your Part 107 license.
Taking the Test
With your test date on the calendar, we recommend you study up. The test, which the FAA calls an aeronautical knowledge test, will demand you know a lot about piloting a drone. The areas tested include:
- Following the correct procedures ahead of your flight, including emergency procedures as necessary
- Maintaining your drone
- Operating your UAV around an airport
- Making judgment calls and decisions very quickly
- Understanding how alcohol and/or drugs can change you physiologically
- Learning more about the performance of your UAV
- Knowing how to communicate via radio
- Managing your resources among your crew
- Studying weather and determining when it’s safe to fly
- Classifying airspace and aircraft so you follow all flight rules
Filling out FAA Form 8710-13
All your hard work paid off and you passed the FAA test. Congratulations are certainly in order for this wonderful accomplishment. Upon receiving confirmation that you passed the aeronautical knowledge test, you’ll want to apply for your Part 107 license or the FAA Airman Certificate. To do this, fill out FAA Form 8710-13.
You’ll next need to register an account through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application or IACRA website. After you register, find the Start New Application section of the page. Then, select from your application type, choosing pilot. Click “remote pilot” for the certification type as well.
Now navigate to Other Path Information, then Start Application. Complete your application, using your Test Exam ID at one point, which is 17 digits long. Then, when you reach the end of the application, you’ll impart a digital signature. You then submit the application.
The TSA will check over your application and your background for security purposes. If you pass that, then you’ll receive an email confirming as much. Keep your eyes peeled for this, as the email will also include your IACRA temporary license. You can print this off and begin using it.
Receiving Your License
The temporary license is a good stand-in, but don’t worry, as your real Part 107 license is on its way in the mail. There is some internal processing that must occur on the FAA’s part before that happens, so it could take a few weeks before you get the real thing. Have some patience, but don’t be afraid to follow up if your license has taken a while to get there.
Using Your License
When you fly your drone commercially, you must always have your Part 107 license on your person. Otherwise, you’re breaking FAA rules.
How Long Is Your Part 107 License Good for?
A UAV pilot’s license is not the same as your driver’s license, where once you have it, you have it. Instead, all Part 107 licenses are good for two years only. Those two years begin the day your license is issued to you.
If you decide after two years that you want to continue using your drone for commercial purposes, then you’ll have to reapply for a continuing Part 107 license. This isn’t as easy as sending out your information to the FAA or IACRA and waiting to get your new license mailed out to you.
Instead, you have to take the written test again. The Knowledge Testing Center website will once more aide you in finding a new testing location or choosing the same one you used before.
Now, this isn’t the exact same test as the first time around, but rather, it’s a recurrent knowledge test. Prepare for somewhat different material and study often.
The reason the FAA demands that all drone pilots who need licenses reapply after two years is a matter of safety. They want to ensure their pilots stay abreast of any new regulations and laws in UAV piloting.
Here’s the Airmen Certification Standards for Remote Pilot Certification and Recurrent Knowledge Test through the FAA, which we recommend you review before retesting.
Should you still wish to operate your drone commercially even two years after getting your Part 107 license a second time, you know the drill by now. You’d have to test and reapply for the license for yet a third time, and so on and so forth.
Tips for Those Drone Pilots Trying for a Part 107 License
Prepping for your Part 107 license brings back the same teenage nerves you felt when you went for your driver’s license back in the day. It’s understandable to be nervous, but you can’t let it get the better of you. Here are a few tips to put you in the right frame of mind as you proceed with your FAA test:
- Plan your test sooner than later. You don’t want to have to crunch or cram for the test by scheduling it a week out. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
- Study as much as you can. This may make you feel like you’re back in school, but you won’t learn the information by ignoring it.
- Seek out your testing location before the test if you’re not familiar with it. You don’t want to be late on test day because you have no idea where you’re going.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night ahead of your test. Go to bed early, even if you usually don’t, so you’re rested. Don’t forget to fuel up with a healthy, filling breakfast that morning!
- Remember that even with a Part 107 license that you must follow drone piloting rules. You would hate to get penalized and even have your license revoked, both of which can happen.
A Part 107 license is intended for those who want to use their drones to make money. These photographers, pilots, and videographers can work in areas like sports, news, environment, security, construction, real estate, military, television and film, and so much more.
You have to pass a written test to get your Part 107 license through the FAA. The license only lasts two years, in which you’re then required to test again. This lets the FAA know you’re current on your knowledge.
With all this info, you’re now ready to obtain your own Part 107 license. Best of luck!