It has been two years since you showed up to the testing center and nervously answered a bunch of questions that had little to do with operating your drone but allowed you to begin using your flying camera for commercial purposes.
Now it is time to renew. In the past, that meant another registration through CATS, a trip to the nearest testing center, and worst of all, another $150 registration fee.
In April of 2021, however, the FAA released an online course and exam that allowed pilots with their Part 107 certificate to renew to a Part 107 sUAS recurrent certificate.
Best of all, it’s FREE!
I’m going to walk you through 5 steps to obtaining a Part 107 sUAS recurrent certificate.
Step 1: Signing up for an FAA Safety Account
Go to faasafety.gov
If you already have an account, you can log in. Otherwise, click on Create an Account. To create an account, you will need the number from your current airman certificate.
Step 2: Enrolling in the Course
Once you have created an account and logged in, you will need to enroll in the course. Navigate to the Activities, Courses, Seminars, and Webinars tab and click on the button in the blue bar to show all available courses.
The courses are listed alphabetically, so you can scroll down to find “Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent.”
The course ID for this program is ALC-677. Make sure you are not signing up for the courses for Part 61 pilots (unless, of course, you have your Part 61).
Rather than scrolling down, you can use the search feature of your browser (command + f on a Mac) to quickly navigate to the proper course.
Simply click on Enroll, and it will open you up to the training.
Note: The course takes around 2 hours to complete.
If you aren’t ready to take the course now, you can just back out, and when you log back in, the course will be found under the yellow bar in the Activities, Courses, Seminars, and Webinars tab.
Step 3: Taking the Course
When you first begin the course, you will be brought to the Introduction Page. It simply describes who the course is for and what it covers.
Following the introduction are three modules, a review, and the exam. The review and exam are not clickable until you have gone through all three modules.
The first module is the meat of the actual training and is accessed by clicking on the blue “1” next to the yellow Intro button.
On that page, you will need to click the link to open up the training in a new tab or window.
The training consists of several lessons, each of which begins with a short video, followed by some slides of text, a couple of knowledge check questions that are either at the end of the lesson or scattered throughout, and finally, a summary of that lesson.
Below is a list of the lessons found in module one of this course, along with a brief overview of what is covered.
Introduction – Training Overview (11 Slides)
- Audience and Scope
- Requirements for part 107 remote pilot certification and recency of knowledge
- Training structure
Lesson 1 – Characteristics and Requirements for sUAS (11 Slides)
- Characteristics of sUAS
- Part 107 exclusions
- Requirements for registration, markings, and condition
Lesson 2 – Remote Pilot in Command Responsibilities (18 Slides)
- The role of the Remote Pilot in Command
- Other supporting crew roles
- Best practices for crew resource management
Lesson 3 – Preflight Considerations (33 Slides)
- Recommended maintenance
- Preflight inspection requirements
Lesson 4 – Operating Rules (65 Slides)
- Operational requirements and limitations sUAS
- Certificated of waiver for select requirements in part 107
Lesson 5 – Abnormal and Emergency Situations (19 Slides)
- Abnormal and emergency situations
- Accident reporting requirements
If you need to pause your training or the window unexpectedly closes, you should be able to return to the lesson you were working on.
If you are in a lesson and want to return to a previous lesson, just click on the Menu in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
Once you have finished module one, you can exit the training and move on to module two, which is just a list of links to resources along with a bulleted overview of what is found at each resource.
Next, you can move on to module 3, which is a list of all the FAA acronyms that are used in the training material and might come up in the questions on the exam.
Once all three of the modules are complete, the review button will become live, and you can click to review the highlights of the course.
Step 4: Taking the Exam
Once you feel like you are ready to take the exam (and if you have been paying attention at all, you should be), just go ahead and click on the exam button.
It will open up a list of 45 multiple choice questions, most of which have three possible answers to choose from. You have 90 minutes to answer all 45 questions correctly.
Unlike the initial test or the old recurrent test, you need to get 100% of these questions correct. Fortunately, you will have the opportunity to correct any wrong answers.
Once you have selected a response for all of the questions, click at the bottom to grade the exam.
I was rushing (and writing this article) while taking my exam, so I missed two of the questions.
At the top of the page, there was some red text indicating that some questions were marked incorrect, and I was able to scroll down and find those questions quickly.
I changed the answers and again graded the exam.
I wanted to make sure that you weren’t given just one opportunity to correct your answer, so on one of the questions, I selected the answer that I knew was incorrect. It let me go in a third time to correct it.
Now obviously, taking three attempts to answer every question means that you can’t possibly fail this exam, but remember, you only have 90 minutes.
If you run out of time before all answers are correct, you will have to start the exam over again.
Step 5: Obtaining Your Certificate
Once you get all of the questions correct, you have completed the training and are given the option to view your certificate or email your credentials to someone – an employer who requested the training, perhaps.
If you need to access it again, you can log back in, navigate to the Activities, Courses, Seminars, and Webinars tab, and you can view your certificate under the blue completed courses section.
You may have noticed that your old Airmen certificate doesn’t have an expiration date. And they won’t be sending you a new one after completing this training.
Go ahead and print off a copy and slide it into your drone case next to the registration. I always keep a digital copy on my phone as well.
Not that anyone has ever asked me for mine. Anyone who has hired me has either assumed I had it or not cared.
But in the unlikely event that you have to present your certificate to a crackpot team of FAA investigators, you’ll be happy you have it because, by that point, something has gone very, very wrong.