Whether your business is creating tricked-out Drone videos for your Instagram feed or helping insurance companies with their backlog of roof inspections after a major hail storm, either way, the first order of business you need to attend to is, passing the Part 107 Knowledge Test. Make no mistake about it, this is not a Chicken and Egg situation, it is, in fact, the foundation of your Drone Business. Before, one dollar can be deposited into your business account, you must become a Commercial Drone Pilot, and the only way to accomplish this is by, passing the Part 107 Knowledge Test.
The FAA rules forbid hobbiest drone pilots from receiving payment for their work. Having your part 107 proves a few things;
#1 You are serious enough about your drone skills to study and pay the $150 required to get certified.
#2 It is terrific knowledge to have, it promotes a safer environment and provides confidence for pilots, and the people around them. See why got mine.
#3 My guess is Insurance companies will eventually require the Part 107 Certificate in order to write insurance for drone flights, so this is preparation for the inevitable.
What is covered in the Part 107 Knowledge Test
I am the first to admit, I knew nothing about Airspace, Airport Field Operations, Weather, and Radio Communications before I took my test preparation course. And, to be honest I found it rather interesting.
Did you know:
All runways are numbered based on a magnetic inbound or outbound course. One number shows what relativity the Runways ‘center line’ has to magnetic north. Then the opposite end of the runway differs from this by 180 degrees. Runway numbers are determined by rounding the compass bearing of one runway end to the nearest 10 degrees and truncating the last digit, meaning runways are numbered from 1 to 36. So, next time you’re coming in for a landing on a commercial flight, and you can see the numbers on the end of the runway, you’ll know what they mean.
I had always wondered how Air Traffic Control kept planes from landing on top of one another, and this is precisely how. And, to be honest, knowing this now makes me feel a little more comfortable when I fly.
Who would have known; a preparation class on Drones would have had the positive effect of making me more comfortable to fly.
The Part 107 Knowledge Test was not a pushover for someone who knows little about the world of aviation. I’m an example of why you dont want to take it for granted. Failing my first time through, made me question whether or not it was even worth my time, money, and aggravation to try a second time. But, that’s not who I am. Receiving that failing grade may have been a blessing in disguise because from there it became a challenge. I had to pass it, if not for anything else but to quiet those demons residing in the mass located squarely between my ears.
So, in an effort to help you avoid the mistake I made my first time taking the test, I would give these 3 topics your utmost attention, and if you do you’re bound to get a passing grade on the Knowledge Test.
Gain A Proficiency in Reading Sectional Charts
This is where I struggled the first time through, I didn’t give Sectional Charts enough attention. Don’t be like me and get a heartbreaking 69% on your first time taking the test, and have to start all over. Learn how to read Sectional Charts.
The FAA is trying to go with Scenario-Based Questions rather than just random questions. Here is an illustration of a Scenario-Based question I wrote down while taking my Knowledge Test.:
Based on this Sectional Chart:
Question: You have been hired to inspect a tower on Tuesday. You want to do a test flight prior to the Inspection and fly the highest altitude allowed. The tower is the lit tower (circled in red) 6 NM SW of Savannah at the highest altitude, what airspace would you be in?
A: Class C
B: Class E
C: Class G
The Answer is A: Class C. An Unmanned Aircraft is allowed to fly 400 feet above a structure. In this case, the structure is 1479 feet above ground level. Add another 400 feet and you are at 1879 feet above the ground. The bottom of Class C is 1300 feet, (which is specified by the 41/13 just above the red circle) so since you would be 579 above the bottom of the Airspace but not above 4100 feet, it puts you squarely in Class C Airspace. This is how the questions are presented, so it is important to have a good working knowledge of Airspace and be able to answer Scenario-Based Questions on the Part 107 Knowledge Test.
Knowledge of FAA’s Rules and Regulations related to Part 107.
The FAA’s rules and regulations which apply to Unmanned Aircraft is governed by 14 CFR, or Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These broad regulations cover everything from:
The Responsibilities of the Remote Pilot
Right of Way Rules
Maximum Speed and Height
It’s imperative you study these topics and be able to answer questions related to them in both a Scenario-Based format of questioning and a random, multiple-choice format. I would spend a great deal of time studying this topic, not only to help you pass the Part 107 Knowledge Test but to provide you the confidence when you’re in the ‘Field’ flying your drone for Income.
This is another question that was on my Part 107 Knowledge Test. As you can see it is not Scenario-Based like the previous question, but it is a bit vague. Sometimes the FAA does its best stump you, and I believe this was a good example of that, which is why I wrote this one down.
14 CFR Part 107 covers which of the following:
A: Civil Small UAS
B: Civil and Public small UAS
C: Civil Recreational Hobbyist
Well, we know Part 107 doesn’t include Hobbyist aircraft, so we can rule out C. And between A and B, B just seemed like a better answer, because the UAS’ it’s referring to are those of the public’s. So, as you can see, this question is a bit vague. Most importantly, be ready for the FAA to try to trip you up with their questioning.
The next topic I would certainly give an immense amount of focus to on the Part 107 Knowledge Test is: Radio Communications.
Understanding Radio Communications is challenging for those who have never been exposed to them. Especially;
Metars, NOTAMS and TFR’s-Oh My!
Metars are an abbreviation for- Meteorological Terminal Aviation Routine. It is simply a means of reporting weather information. A typical Metar would look something like this:
Let’s dissect one of these:
KBOI-This is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Airport identifier. In this case, it would be the Boise Air Terminal in Boise, Idaho.
121854Z-This is referring to the 12th of the month at 1854 Zulu time.
130044kt-This indicates the Wind Direction, which is 130 degrees at a speed of 044 knots.
30SM-Visibility is 30 Statute Miles.
SCT 150 Clouds are scattered at an elevation of 1500Feet.
17/6 Temperature is 17 degrees Celcius and Dew Point is 6 Degrees Celcius.
A3015-Indicates the Altimeter Setting is 30.15 Hg.
This is difficult, and to be honest I still struggle with reading Metars. But, I promise you this WILL be on Part 107 Knowledge Test, so please make sure you understand it.
NOTAMS is the abbreviation for ‘Notice to Airmen’. It is meant to notify Airmen of a particular event or status of something happening around a given ICAO, and for them to maintain readiness because it could affect the safety of flight. Some examples of these ‘events’ would be: Parachute jumping, closed runways, flights of Heads of State, inoperable radio navigational aids.
Here is a typical NOTAM, a great resource to decode this would be this post from ThinkAviation.com
If you wanted to do your own NOTAM search, here is the link to the FAA’s site to get up to date information.
Here is a recent NOTAM for Gowen Field in Boise.
Known as ‘Temporary Flight Restrictions’. This is a type of NOTAM that restricts air travel over particular airspace due to a hazardous condition. Here are some TFR’s from February 24th, 2020.
This all seems a bit overwhelming, I get it, but you’ll do fine if you prepare for it. There are 60 questions on the Part 107 Knowledge Test, all multiple choice, and some may require a calculator. If you have trouble reading small print on sectional charts, I would suggest taking a magnifying glass with you. I brought one and even had to use it. Remember to take occasional deep breaths, and if you get stumped, eliminate the answers you know are incorrect.
If you concentrate on these three areas, you’re bound to do fine on the Part 107 Knowledge Test, so good luck and happy Flying!