Category Archives: FAA Testing

FAA Test Prep Pays Off

If you needed a 70% to graduate in a whole new subject, you’d never dream of taking a final exam without cracking a single book on the subject or taking a course. The same should go for your FAA Knowledge Tests; especially the new Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating.

Believe it or not, some do. We’ve been an FAA-approved Test Site for 18 years here at Group 3 Aviation. We’ve witnessed many students come in ready to take their tests. These are the folks that pass the first time, and often in record time. The tests really aren’t that difficult for those who know the material and are prepared.

However, we also see an alarmingly high number of folks arrive with no test preparation at all. Having taken a few flights, or even having flown a UAS for years, is still not enough to pass these comprehensive tests that are designed to prove your knowledge of the rules, regulations and penalties of breaking the rules, as well as the flight characteristics of the aircraft. Even for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating, which some may think is an easy test, we continue to see people arrive unprepared and fail, costing them time (you must wait two weeks after failing the test to take it again) and the full price of a retest.

Proper FAA Test Prep

Often folks believe purchasing a test prep book, such as those offered by ASA, is enough to prepare for the test. If you are also receiving flight instruction and ground school in addition to studying books designed to fully immerse you in the topic while preparing with your test prep book, this can often provide the preparation you need.

However, if you’ve not been receiving instruction or taking ground school, the test prep is only a piece of the puzzle and should never be used in lieu of proper flight and ground school or self study. The test preps are designed to touch on important details as a refresher for information that could be asked on the test, and the practice questions may not be the ones on your test. They do not go into the depth needed to fully understand a subject and are certainly not designed to teach you everything you need to know to be a safe and responsible pilot, regardless of the aircraft you fly.

We encourage our own flight students to receive their ground and flight training prior to testing, not only so they gain a full working understanding of the material, but also to see how the rules and principles they’re learning are applied. This depth of understanding makes recalling the correct answer in a practical test very easy.

Test Prep for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating

An instructor’s sign off isn’t required for this rating, leaving it open for anyone to test without proof of preparation. Sadly, we see a high percentage of first time test failures as a result.

In preparation for this test, we highly recommend students take the time to read the actual FAA documents and applicable parts of a private pilot book in addition to the test prep. By reading through these items, you gain an understanding of how the aviation environment works and why the rules are in place, making test taking easier and increasing the chances you’ll be a safer and more professional pilot. We’ve also provided a few hours of ground school on aviation charts, weather, aeronautical decision making, and the like to those who have requested it in order to properly prepare.

Here are the items we recommend testers review before arriving for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating test:

The test covers the following topics, for which reading the above will prepare you:

  • 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

Remember, every time you take the test, you pay again, and must wait 14 days. It’s well worth the time, and your future in aviation, to properly prepare yourself before taking any FAA Knowledge Test.

FAA Testing for UAS Rating Begins August 29

FAA begins UAS rating testing nationwide on Monday, August 29, 2016, for the new Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating.

Here is what you need to know to reserve your testing space and prepare for your test to receive your certificate, which will allow you to legally operate a small UAS (or drone) for commercial purposes.

Reserving a Testing Time

Our testing center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. That said, we do what we can to accommodate our customers and if demand is high, we will stay open beyond those hours and even offer a few Sundays.

To reserve your testing appointment, call us at 818-994-9376 or email us cl@group3aviation.com

Requirements to Take the Test

All applicants must be 14 years of age. If you’ve taken the test and failed, you must wait 14 days before you can take the test again. No proof of additional training is required to retest after a failure.

You must bring government issued photo identification with a permanent address listed (no P.O. boxes) to take the test. We describe all the accepted types of identification for U.S. citizens, resident aliens and citizens of other countries on our FAA Testing Page.

You must pay the testing fee. The written test for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating costs $170 if paying by credit card, $165 if paying cash. We offer a $10.00 discount off those prices for AOPA or EAA Members.

Preparing for your Test

While no endorsements are required for your test (you don’t need a flight instructor to sign you off to take it), it’s a good idea to come prepared. The FAA has stated the test will have 60 questions and you will have two hours to complete the test. You will need to receive a 70% to pass.

The FAA has outlined airman certification standards for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating. Reading through those standards (found here) as well as the sample questions from the test will help prepare you in advance. Additionally, we highly recommend reading through the Advisory Circular 107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which clearly outlines the rules and responsibilities of a UAS pilot in preparation. The FAA stated the test will cover the following topics:

  • 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

It’s important to note the FAA has stated no ground school is required to take the knowledge test and no past training or courses taken will count toward your certificate. However, the FAA does encourage self-training, online training or taking a course to become familiar with the regulations.

Whatever you choose, be sure to study or prepare before the test, as a failure of the test requires you to take it again, repaying the fee. If you do fail the test, you’re allowed to take it again 14 days after your last attempt.

For more information on how to apply for your certificate, please visit our UAS Rating page.

Call now to reserve your testing appointment, 818-994-9376 or email us cl@group3aviation.com.

The New Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating

On June 21, the FAA approved new commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) rules that, among other things, announced a new Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating is required to fly a small UAS or drone for commercial purposes. If you’re looking to operate a UAS for hire, here is all you need to know to get started:

Applying for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating – New Pilots

New Pilots (people not currently holding an FAA-issued pilot certificate) must meet the following to qualify for a Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam (a computerized written test) at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center, such as Group 3 Aviation. To stay current, you’ll be required to pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months.

Once you’ve passed the Initial Knowledge Test, you then apply through the FAA’s online IACRA system. Once registered with IACRA, you will login with your username and password. Click on “Start New Application” and, 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot,” 3) “Other Path Information,” and 4) “Start Application.”

Continue through the application process and, when prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID you received when you passed your knowledge test. Please note, it takes about 48 hours for your test code to be recognized in the system once you pass the test so it is best to attempt to complete your application two days after you’ve passed the test.

Your application is submitted electronically and the TSA will automatically conduct a background check. You will receive a confirmation email once your application has completed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting process. The email will provide information that will allow you to log into the IACRA system and print a copy of the temporary certificate.

Applying for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating – Current Pilots

Current pilots (having had a biannual flight review within the last 24 months) who hold an FAA-issued pilot certificate other than student certificate are also required to apply for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating. The knowledge test is not required for current pilots, but you must pass a recurrent online training course (Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451) every 24 months. That online training is already available at https://www.faasafety.gov. If you are not current, you have the choice of having a BFR or following the new pilot rules above.

Once completing the online training, pilots must fill out FAA Form 8710-13 (can be done through the online IACRA system) and bring it, with proof of the training and government issued photo identification, to a FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), airman certification representative (ACR), designated pilot examiner (DPE) or FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) for identity confirmation and signature. If you elect to work with the FSDO, ACR or DPE, you’ll leave with your temporary Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating from them. If you’re working with a CFI, you will be sent your certificate once the FSDO has signed it off and sent it to the FAA pilot registry office.

We have a DPE and CFIs here at Group 3 Aviation and are happy to help you with this step. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.

 

This of course is a quick overview of the process to get your new certificate. All details on how to apply the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating can be found on the FAA’s website here. The FAA has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions here. It’s a good idea to closely review both pages before applying, whether you’re a new pilot or current pilot.

Reserving your spot for the Knowledge Test

The FAA Knowledge Test for this certificate will be available in August, however the exact date has yet to be determined. Here at our FAA-approved testing facility, we’ll be able to administer it immediately upon its availability.

We are currently taking names and numbers and will call people in the order we received your name as soon as we are able to take reservations for the test. Call us at 818-994-9376 or email us to get on the pre-reservation list for the knowledge test.

When showing up for your test, you must bring government issued photo identification.

The cost for the test at our testing center is $165, $10 off for AOPA and EAA members.

Preparing for the test

The FAA has outlined airman certification standards for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating. Reading through those standards (found here) as well as the sample questions from the test will help prepare you in advance. Additionally, we highly recommend reading through the Advisory Circular 107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which clearly outlines the rules and responsibilities of a UAS pilot in preparation. The FAA stated the test will cover the following topics:

  • 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

It’s important to note the FAA has stated no ground school is required to take the knowledge test and no past training or courses taken will count toward your certificate. Be aware of predatory programs claiming their classes, online or in person, meet prerequisites for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating Knowledge Test. However, the FAA does encourage self-training, online training or taking a course to become familiar with the regulations.

Whatever you choose, be sure to study or prepare before the test, as a failure of the test requires you to take it again, repaying the fee. If you do fail the test, you’re allowed to take it again 14 days after your last attempt.

We will update this post as soon as we have a direct link to study materials from the FAA and we will post updates on our Facebook and Twitter account.

Whether you need to take your Knowledge Test or need a DPE or CFI to sign off on your new certificate, please give us a call. We’re here to help, and answer any questions we can.