As of last week, more than 100,000 Remote Pilot Certifications have been issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for individuals to fly commercial and recreational (those not qualifying as “model aircraft”) drones. This number of remote pilots is only after the final Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rule went into effect on August 29, 2016. Under the sUAS rule (Part 107), an individual who seeks to operate a drone must have a Remote Pilot Certificate or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. The majority of these remote pilots obtain the certification by studying online materials and then passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. If you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate and have had a flight review in the past 24 months, you have the option to take a sUAS online training course provided by the FAA to obtain your certificate instead.
A Remote Pilot Certificate is valid for two years from the date of issue. The FAA advises that those individuals who received their certification at the end of August or September 2016 should review the renewal requirements and prepare to take recurrent training or testing.