Over the past year and a half, the drone world has had an influx of great and easily accessible drones released. DJI has released the Mini 2, Air 2S, Mini 3 Pro, and pro-level Mavic 3, as well as Autel releasing the Lite and Nano series.
With this influx of new drones hitting the market has come an ever-increasing interest in drones, with many first-time drone operators joining the community.
If you live in the State of Florida like me, you might be wondering how to get a drone license in Florida. We will discuss how to get the needed drone paperwork in Florida for recreational flyers as well as commercial drone operators.
Before we discuss the “licenses” needed when flying your drone in Florida, it needs to be understood that there is no Florida-specific drone license.
When referring to licenses for flying drones, these would be the certificates needed on the national level to fly your drone, meaning the certificates that are required and recognized in all 50 states in the US.
The 2 major certificates nationally recognized for flying drones are the TRUST certificate for recreational flyers and the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (often mistakenly referred to as a “drone license”) for commercial flyers.
We will be discussing how to acquire these certificates as well as their individual use cases.
As of June 22, 2021, the TRUST certificate is required by the FAA for ALL drone operators, who are flying recreationally, to carry with them on their person.
TRUST (also known as the Recreational UAS Safety Test) is a required test for all individuals who fly drones recreationally.
In view of the rise of drone popularity, the TRUST test has been put in place to ensure that any individual who flies a drone is aware of flying their drone(s) safely and has practical knowledge of the regulatory measures that have been implemented over the past few years by the FAA.
As mentioned previously, this is a nationwide requirement.
Whether you are flying your drone in Hawaii, Minnesota, or Florida, you must have passed the TRUST exam and have the TRUST certificate on you, every time you are flying recreationally.
Steps to take the TRUST exam and Receive your Certificate
I am a Part 107 Remote Pilot (for a few years) and likewise, I had to take the TRUST exam, since I also fly recreationally.
This is a point of contention and confusion among many Part 107 holders, as virtually all of the information covered in the test is something 107 Pilots have previously been tested on and passed. However, it is better to be safe than sorry.
INFORMATION ON SIGNING UP AND TAKING THE EXAM
The TRUST exam process is a collaboration between the FAA and Drone Industry leaders, and as such there are various FAA-approved testing administrators that can be found online.
One of the more popular options can be found through Pilot Institute, which has a wealth of Drone related content, knowledge, and test prep courses.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
I not only took my TRUST exam through Pilot Institute, but I also took and passed my Part 107 exam using their Remote Pilot course. More on this later.
Unlike other exams to procure certificates, the TRUST exam is absolutely free of charge.
If you happen to come across any facility charging an exam fee, it is advised to look into another testing administrator, as you should never have to pay anything.
You will be required to create an account (which auto deletes after your certificate is distributed).
In order to receive your certificate, the exam must be passed with 100% (all answers need to be correct). However, unlike many exams, the TRUST exam has correctable answers.
Yes, you read that right. You can correct your answers if they are wrong. This makes passing the exam very easy to do.
The exam, which is tailored to new drone operators, has various reading materials included and 4 quizzes. The entire exam can be taken in just about 30 minutes.
If you are familiar with drones and/or have taken your Part 107 exam, the test can be completed in a matter of a few minutes.
Immediately upon finishing and passing the exam, it is advisable to download and print the certificate.
This is essential as mentioned prior, your account is deleted and the testing facilities do not keep your information.
If for some reason you forget to download or print your certificate, you will need to create a new account and take the exam over again. Also, if you lose your certificate, you will need to create a new account and retake the exam.
IMPORTANT: It is required that you keep your TRUST certificate on you at all times when flying your drone, as law enforcement officers now have the right to ask to see your certificate.
Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
Like the TRUST Certificate, the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate is nationally recognized and not just issued for the state of Florida or whatever state one lives in.
Unlike the TRUST certificate, Part 107 is for those that fly in a commercial capacity or those that are using their drones for the furtherance of business.
When it comes to drones, using drone footage for the furtherance of business would be using stills or video of a particular drone flight for commercial marketing purposes or posting to a commercial website to drive business for profit.
Basically, using drone footage to make money somehow, shape, or fashion.
Industry Fields That Require a Part 107 Certificate
If you are interested in becoming a Commercial Drone Operator, below are just a few of the many fields you can use the Part 107 Certificate:
- Real Estate
- Construction Progression
- Roof Inspection
- Solar/Thermal Inspection
- Power Line Inspection
- Structural Inspection
- Cell Tower and Equipment Inspection
- Agricultural Surveying
- Search and Rescue
Steps to Becoming a Certified Part 107 Remote Pilot
AGE & OTHER REQUIREMENTS
In order to start the process, there is a major requirement that must be met. Namely, just like with a driver’s license in the US, you have to be 16 years of age or older to obtain your Part 107.
Aside from being 16 years of age, future certificate holders must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English.
Lastly, one would also need to be able to physically fly a drone, in a safe manner, heeding all regulations related to flying said drone.
Once you have decided you want to become a Part 107 Remote Pilot and are at least 16 years old, the next step would be setting up an IACRA profile (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application) prior to scheduling any testing.
Per the FAA, IACRA is a web-based certification application that guides those who would like to be future Part 107 Certificate holders through the FAA’s application process online.
Once you are signed up you will be able to access all applicable forms, and pilot information, and print out related certificates.
STUDY, STUDY, STUDY…AND STUDY SOME MORE
There will be some who will say all you need to do is watch a random 1-2 hour Part 107 Study Guide video on YouTube and you are all set to pass the exam.
That might work for some, but every single Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot I have spoken to or worked with, would agree that real, in-depth studying is the key to success.
There are many reputable Part 107 study courses, guides, and books available online, and we at Droneblog even have an updated Top 10 Best Part 107 Online Test Prep Courses.
I personally would suggest that if you are looking to become Part 107 Certified for a business venture or career, it does well to invest in yourself and handle studying as if it was a college course.
One of the things I had heard about quite often was that if you regularly take the practice exams and consistently pass them with an 85% or above, you should pass the real FAA exam. A score of 75% is required to pass the exam.
I took the Pilot Institutes course and they provide practice exams, which are very helpful in the overall study process and aided me in passing with flying colors.
SOME OF THE INFORMATION THAT WILL BE COVERED IN THE EXAM
Below is a word-for-word listing, right from the FAA’s website, of the many topics and subjects that are covered in the exam:
- Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
- Airspace classification and 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 and performance
- Emergency procedures
- Crew resource management
- Radio communication 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
- Operation at night
SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR EXAM
After you have studied everything there is to know about the above subjects and have a good feel for the practice exams, it’ll be time to schedule an appointment with an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center (link).
The process is fairly painless and quick. Once you have scheduled your appointment you will receive all the needed instructions related to taking the exam, such as when to be on-site, what items are permitted in the testing facility, etc.
Note: When you have passed the exam and received your Part 107 Certificate (the look and size of a driver’s license), it is valid for 2 years. You will need to take a currently free, online recurrent course, and exam when the certificate expires.
As can be seen, it is very easy to get a certificate (TRUST) to fly your drone, whether in Florida or in another state. Just remember, it is now mandatory to have said TRUST Certificate when out and about flying recreationally.
If you are ready to take your flying to the next level and get paid to do so, getting your Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate would be the next step and achievable as well.