Here’s What I Learned From Taking the Recurrent Part 107 Exam
Since July of 2016, UAV pilots in the United States have had the opportunity to become a commercial drone pilot through the FAA’s Part 107 sUAS program. The license is valid for 24 months. Before the end of the two years, pilots are required to take the Part 107 recurrent test.
While the recurrent test is very similar to the initial knowledge test, it covers less material. Operations, regulations, air & space requirements, weather, and loading & performance are all topics on the initial examination. The recurrent test covers these same topics, except for weather and loading & performance.
In the past, commercial drone pilots would need to sign up to take the exam and pass the recurrent test before their current license expired. Testing was conducted at one of the many test centers around the country and typically set you back $150. That all changed on April 6, when the FAA made the recurrent test free and online.
My sUAS license was set to expire at the end of April 2021. After completing the new online Part 107 recurrent course and passing the exam on April 8, I am happy to say it is a straightforward procedure.
Let us review how you can sign up for the class, what the class covers, and what to expect on the exam.
Enrolling in the Part 107 Recurrent Course
The process for taking the new online recurrent test starts with taking the Part 107 sUAS Recurrent – Non-61 Pilotscourse.
The course can be found on the FAASTeam website. If you do not already have an account, you will need to sign up for one. There is no cost for signing up. Some courses on the site are fee-based, but the recurrent test is not one of them.
After entering your login information, you can either select the course from the Featured Course section on the homepage or through the Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars tab.
Enroll in the class, and you can begin the training.
The Course Itself
The scope of the training covers several knowledge areas of 14 CFR Part 107.
Here is a list of the knowledge areas covered.
- Applicable regulations relating to UAS rating privileged, limitations, and flight operation
- Airspace classification, operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
- Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
- Small unmanned aircraft loading
- Emergency procedures
- Crew resource management
- Radio communications procedures
- Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
- Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
- Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
- Airport operations
- Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
- Operations at night
Each section consists of a short video and several slides reviewing the material. Practice questions in the form of knowledge checks are placed at the end of each section.
Correct answers are accompanied by an explanation of why the answer is correct. If you select the incorrect answer, you can go to the previous slide and select the right answer.
After completing all sections, you can close out the lesson slides and take the exam.
Once the online course is closed, you will notice that the course’s exam button is now available to click.
The test consists of 45 multiple-choice questions. Each question lists the source for the answer within 14 CFR Part 107. This is extremely helpful if you get stuck on a particular question.
You must score 100% to pass the exam. This sounds worse than it is. If you score lower than 100%, you can review the questions and correct the ones that are highlighted as incorrect.
I rushed through the first attempt and missed three questions. After taking my time on them, my score improved to 100%. The system will then generate a certificate of completion authorizing you for another 24 months as a licensed commercial drone pilot.
UAV pilots who had previously taken the recurrent test will be surprised to see there are no questions asking you to use aeronautical charts or supplementals. There are, however, questions referencing flying over people and flying at night as these are now allowed without a waiver in certain circumstances.
The new rules for remote ID are also part of the exam. The information for these questions is presented adequately in the online course. If you are not familiar with these new rules, you will be by the end of the training.
When compared to the previous recurrent test, the new format is excellent.
UAV pilots can complete their recurrent training and exam within an hour or two without spending any money. The FAA has designed a good course to keep pilots certified more efficiently than the previous system.
If you are a commercial drone pilot and your certification is expiring soon, take the course and test today. You will be surprised at how uncomplicated the process is.