What It Takes To Be a Drone Pilot
A decade or so ago, nobody would have thought small, unmanned flying machines would be a fixture of our daily lives. But due to a boom in the drone industry, these little—and sometimes not-so-little—devices are being used for hundreds of applications. If you are interested in this field, you should read ahead to learn what it takes to be a drone pilot.
The Growing Industry
Pilots that know drones only as toys flying about in parks or as jets that drop bombs in warzones may view the new technology as a fleet of pests at best and professional competition at worst. However, the emergence of drones has actually opened more opportunities for pilots.
Amazon was one of the first to announce their interest in drone-powered home deliveries, but drone manufacturers believe those drop-offs will only be the final part of a future air transport system that could stretch thousands of miles. Companies will need people to fly these “cargo drones,” and given the shortage of pilots today, this could be a quick path toward a career in the sky.
Other tasks that drones already accomplish include:
- Surveying construction sites
- Conducting virtual home tours for the real estate industry
- Filming live events for the entertainment industry
- Scouting dangerous sites before police and fireman conduct a search and rescue mission
Remote Pilot Certificate
If you want to be a commercial drone pilot, you will be subject to the regulations determined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107) says commercial drone pilots must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate and register their drones with the body. To get this certificate, one must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Pass the Part 107 test
- Speak, write, and read English
- Possess the mental and physical condition to safely fly a drone
The first step in the certification process is to develop an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile. After that, you must schedule a time with the FAA Knowledge Testing Center to take the Part 107 test.
Part 107 Test
The most time-consuming and difficult part of the application process, the Part 107 test challenges applicants on several components of successful drone flying. These include:
- Drone regulations
- How weather affects drones
- Radio communication
- Emergency protocols
- How drugs impact flying
Using these topics, the FAA separates the wannabes from those who have what it takes to be a drone pilot. After the pilot has passed the test, they can finally complete FAA Form 8710-13 and register with FAA’s IACRA system. They will receive a certificate that they should keep in an accessible place when they work with drones.