The FAA Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test for UAS Operators
Are you interested in operating or learning more about drones? Before you purchase one, there is an important step to consider. The FAA requires every drone operator to pass the Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test. Passing this test allows the operator to commercially fly a drone that weighs 55 pounds or less up to 400 feet above ground level within visual line of sight. One of our very own private pilots, who was the first in Utah to take and pass the FAA Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test, has some useful insight for you.
Purpose of FAA Part 107
The purpose of the FAA Part 107 regulation is to ensure that that the drone or UAS operator has the knowledge and ability to plan and fly a site while navigating airspace and weather in a safe manner. The finalized operational rules that took effect in late August offer safety regulations for drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting commercial operations. “With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.” (FAA.gov)
General Test Question Content
Though not exact, many of the questions are in the same format as the practice test the FAA released earlier this year. Being able to understand FAA sectional charts is very important when answering questions. Between 15 and 20 of the questions focused on sectional charts and how they relate to UAS operations. It is important to understand how the airspace markings and symbols indicate where you can and cannot fly. Specific locations within a given airspace are identified, and questions are asked about whether or not you need to seek approval to fly in that area, the height at which you can fly during the mission, and how to ensure you are familiar with local air traffic control. Understanding communication procedures and finding important radio frequencies for local traffic is also covered.
Some questions touch on military training areas and how they play into the local airspace. Understanding MOAs and the procedural routes that military aircraft fly is very important. Understanding how to read tabular weather forecasts was covered in three or four questions, including questions about how long the weather reports would be active in Zulu time, as well as what kind of weather conditions were being reported. All of the general aviation related questions are drawn from the private pilot written exam, including operations, weather, weather services, and en route procedures.
The UAS-specific questions touched on topics that may be more in the realm of general knowledge. There were some questions about hazardous attitudes and associated behavior, such as drugs and alcohol. Other questions were concerned with altitude, speed, and open flying areas for UAS, and who to contact if any of the limits were broken. In the event of a crash, the operator is required to contact specified people to make sure all details are documented. Similar questions are asked in a number of different ways to ensure thorough understanding.
Quite a few questions explored the difference between the pilot in command of the UAS and anyone else involved in the operation. Some basic aerodynamic questions ask about center of gravity and load, though most of these only apply to fixed wing platforms in terms of lift capabilities and stall characteristics.
Top 5 Things to Remember
A basic calculator is helpful for a couple of questions that require chart reading to determine and combine load factors. Our pilot mentioned that it was all pretty basic understanding about flight fundamentals. Overall, his thoughts were that the test shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you understand these five important elements:
1. Sectional charts
2. Tabular weather forecasts
3. Basic flight fundamentals
4. Contacts and deadlines when flight tolerances and limits are exceeded
5. Understand what to do when you crash your drone or UAS
Below, we have included some links to help you on your journey to becoming a commercial drone operator, whether you will be operating a quadcopter drone with camera or fixed wing drone. If you have additional questions or need help through this process, we offer drone consulting services at a competitive hourly rate. We employ highly experienced drone pilots, GIS specialists, professional land surveyors, and others with the experience and skill to make your pursuit a success. In addition, we offer three different types of drone services: Drone Flight Planning, Drone Flights, and Drone Data Processing. Contact us to learn more. We are happy to help!
Testing Centers- A list of all the accredited testing centers that administer the test.
Testing Matrix- This establishes the parameters for all available FAA tests. Page 14 is for UAS.
Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge- This is the private pilot’s bible when flight training. It goes over all the fundamentals of flight and planning. Not directly related to UAS, this will teach you everything you need to know on the UAS test, plus a plethora of additional knowledge about manned aircraft.
Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement- This provides all of the supplemental data for taking the test. It contains all of the charts, diagrams, and tabular weather forecasts the test refers to, and is acceptable for use as a reference during the test.
UAS Study Guide- This in-depth and detailed guide covers everything you need to know to pass the test. It is specifically related to UAS.
UAG Sample Exam- A mock test containing the same amount and type of questions as the real rest.