How To Become a Commercial Drone Pilot


    Drone pilots are in demand. In fact, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, projected more than 100,000 new jobs will be created in unmanned aircraft by the year 2025. And analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that the global market for commercial use of drones could reach $127 million by 2020. That’s because more professionals, like realtors, security firms, advertising agencies, architects, construction firms and developers looking for aerial video to do business.

    If you want to get in on this groundswell and become a commercial drone pilot, you will need three things:

    1. A Drone Pilot License
    2. Professional Drone Insurance
    3. A Drone

    The first thing you will need is a license. Selling drone photos without a license could earn you a $1,100 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The government has mandated that anyone who flies a drone for a commercial, non-recreational or governmental purpose needs to have a special license to do so. This license is called a Part 107, after the rule that governs it.

    To get this license, you have to register with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (ICARA), then register online for the written test, which costs $150 and can be taken at an FAA approved location. These are often local flying clubs or airports. This test involves 60-plus multiple-choice questions that cover setting up, operating and safely using a drone. You need to answer 70 percent correct to pass.

    Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have a government-issued picture ID. Note: It may take a couple of weeks, depending on your location, while you sit on a waiting list. There are about 700 locations in the United States.

    To give you some idea of the test’s difficulty level, here’s a sample question:

    A stall occurs when the smooth airflow over the unmanned airplane’s wing is disrupted and the lift degenerates rapidly. This is caused when the wing:

    A) exceeds the maximum speed.

    B) exceeds maximum allowable operating weight.

    C) exceeds its critical angle of attack.

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