Everything You Need to Know About the Drone License Recertification Process


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NEW Regulations for Recurrent Training (As of April 6, 2021)

As of April 6, 2021, the rules for recurrent testing and training have changed!  Now Part 107 certificate holders only need to take a free online course every two years.  Here’s an excerpt from the FAA’s site on the new rules:

“The final rule updates the initial Remote Pilot knowledge test to include an operation at night knowledge area. Additionally, the final rule replaces the requirement to complete an in-person recurrent test every 24 calendar months. The updated requirement is for remote pilots to complete online recurrent training which will include an operation at night knowledge area. The online recurrent training will be offered free of charge to remote pilots beginning April 6, 2021.

In addition, small UAS operators must have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when operating, ready to present to authorized individuals upon request.

There are multiple training options, depending on your current status:

  • If you do not hold a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate you must:
  • Current Part 61 certificate holders:
    • Take the Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Initial (ALC-451) online course
    • Available on the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeamwebsite for no cost
  • Part 107 remote pilots who are also certificated and current under Part 61:
    • Take the Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Recurrent (ALC -515) online course
    • Available on the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeamwebsite for no cost
  • All individuals who hold a Part 107 remote pilot certificate (regardless of currency):
    • Take the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots (ALC-677) online course
    • Available on the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeamwebsite for no cost

The Previous Process (No longer effective)

If you were a part of the initial wave of newly minted commercial drone pilots when the FAA first released the new Part 107 exam (officially called the “Unmanned Aircraft – General” exam) in August 2016, you might know that it’s almost time for recertification!

What Does Drone License Recertification Mean and Does It Apply to Me?

First off, if you want to fly drones for commercial purposes or for any reason other than for recreation, you need to hold a Remote Pilot Certificate (commonly referred to as a Commercial Drone License or Part 107 License).  You can obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate by taking and passing an FAA knowledge exam and undergoing a small background check. Find out more on the initial drone license certification process here. But, if you ALREADY have your Remote Pilot Certificate, one of the things you need to remember is that you are required to take the FAA recurrent knowledge test at least every 24 months in order for your license to remain valid. Part 107.65 states: FAA Part 107 Recurrent Knowledge Exam Part 107.65 graphic

When Do I Need to Have Taken the FAA Recurrent Knowledge Test By?

I know that the Part 107.65 excerpt above might sound like a bunch legal mumbo jumbo, but basically it boils down to… You have to have taken the recurrent knowledge exam (or you can take the original exam again if you want) no later than 24 calendar months after your last successful exam.  (Unless you are a manned aircraft pilot who is “current” on their flight review requirements.) For instance, if you passed your initial exam on August 20, 2016, you would have to pass the recurrent knowledge exam NO LATER THAN August 31, 2018. To make it easy on you, we created a calculator to let you know the date by which you need to pass your recurrent knowledge exam. Just enter the date you passed your most recent initial or recurrent knowledge exam, and it will tell you when you need to pass your next recurrent exam by. Give it a try! [exam_calculator]  

What Does the Drone License Recertification Process Entail?

So, what do you need to do to tackle the recertification process? Really all you need to do is schedule and pass the FAA recurrent knowledge test.  That’s it!  No additional online application or trying to figure out more government websites. (Whew!) Here are a few details about the recurrent knowledge exam…
  • Need a passing score of 70%
  • Time allowed: 90 minutes
  • Must be at least 16 years old to take the exam
  • Required to bring your current Remote Pilot Certificate to the testing center with you (your card…photo below)
  • Required to bring a photo ID that has your signature, date of birth, and permanent mailing address (usually your driver’s license, passport, or similar ID card)
FAA Remote Pilot Certificate Keep reading to see what is covered on the exam and how to sign up.

What Does the Recurrent Knowledge Exam Cover?

Good news.  The recurrent knowledge exam only tests remote pilots on a limited portion of what was covered on the initial, Unmanned Aircraft – General knowledge exam (the initial Part 107 exam). Here is a breakout provided by the FAA… FAA Part 107 Recurrent Knowledge Exam Topic Breakout So make sure you are familiar with questions related to sectional charts and airport operations!  We’ve trained several thousand students for the initial knowledge exam through our Part 107 Exam Prep Course, and this is the area that seems to trip people up the most.

Where Do I Take the Exam?

The FAA recurrent knowledge exam is given at FAA-contracted testing centers around the US, just like the initial knowledge exam. CATS/PSI is the company that provides the testing and scheduling for the FAA.  We spoke with them the other day, and they said that they started offering the recurrent knowledge exam on June 11, 2018, so you can schedule your test today if you want! To schedule your exam, you can call CATS/PSI toll free at 1-844-704-1487. The people over at CATS/PSI are very nice and can help you find a testing center that is close by and is open during a time that works for your schedule. If you want to take a look online at what testing centers are near you, click here.

How Much Does It Cost?

The exam costs $150 per attempt (same as the initial knowledge exam).  This fee is paid to CATS/PSI (not the FAA).

Study Resources

If want to make sure you are studied up and ready to pass your knowledge exam, Drone Launch Academy provides two resources.
  1. FAA Part 107 Exam Study Course ($179) – this online video course has helpful video explanations, written lectures, practice questions, and full practice tests that walk you through everything you need to know to pass your knowledge exam in a simple format. (Use the promo code RECERT50 at checkout for $50 off!)
  2. Part 107 Digital Flash Cards ($39) – these digital flashcards are a quick way to go over the key points you need to remember for the exam. The best way to commit something to memory is repetition!  These flashcards enable you to drill home the info you need to know.

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Drone Launch Academy has helped over 40,000 drone pilots learn how to fly drones, pass the Part 107 Exam, and learn the skills they need to start making money with drones.

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