US Drone Law
Cutting Edge Legal Analysis for
Cutting Edge Drone Technology
US Drone Law is not a law firm. The contents of this site do not represent legal advice and are for informational purposes only.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Part 107 Drone Rule
Can I call the air traffic control tower at my local airport to request permission to fly my drone in Class C or E airspace?
According to the FAA, all airspace permission requests must be made through the online portal. This mandate does not appear in the actual language of the Small UAS rule. The rule itself (14 CFR 107) merely requires that you contact the Air Traffic Control facility responsible for the space and obtain permission.
I took an online drone pilot training course from a third-party provider. Am I still required to take the FAA knowledge test to get a drone pilot license?
Yes. Prior drone training may be helpful to new applicants preparing for the knowledge test, but prior training, even if the training involved some type of test, cannot be substituted for the FAA’s knowledge test administered by a FAA approved testing center.
I already have a traditional pilot license (issued under part 61) but would like to fly drones as well. Do I need to obtain a separate drone pilot license?
Yes, if you plan to fly the drone for anything other than recreational purposes (under the authority of 14 CFR 107) then you will need to obtain a drone pilot license. The FAA created a separate drone pilot license (called a remote pilot certificate) for anyone piloting a drone under the Part 107 rule. The remote pilot certificate can be obtained by taking and passing an aeronautical knowledge test. However, anyone who holds a part 61 pilot certificate and has completed a flight review within the past 24 months may obtain the new remote pilot certificate by taking an online training course that focuses on drone-specific areas of knowledge instead sitting for the knowledge test. Everyone else will be required to take and pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test to obtain a remote pilot certificate.
The only other exceptions to the above would be drone operations under a Section 333 waiver and drone operations under a public COA.
The Small UAS rule (14 CFR 107) prohibits drone pilots who are operating under the rule from operating their drones in Class B, Class C, Class D, or the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport without first obtaining permission from Air Traffic Control. The FAA has developed an online portal through which a drone pilot can contact Air Traffic Control and request permission to enter the otherwise prohibited airspace. The FAA has indicated that the online portal will be the only means by which a drone pilot can request permission to enter prohibited airspace classes. US Drone Law notes that the code section requiring permission from Air Traffic Control to fly in Class E, D, C, or B airspace does not specify the steps that must be taken by an operator when they contact Air Traffic Control.
You can take the knowledge test at an approved FAA testing center on the date the new Small UAS Rule (14 CFR 107) becomes effective. The new rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the federal register. Publication occurred on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, which means the test should be available on or around August 27, 2016.