There are 2 steps to obtaining your Remote Pilot Certification:
- Pass a knowledge test at an approved test center
- Apply for a Remote Pilot Certification on the FAA website (this is also the background check form)
To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years old, English-speaking, in good health, have valid government ID, and pass the TSA background check.
Obtaining the Remote Pilot certification is a fast process
Pre-Test: Grab your driver’s license or passport, and call CATS at (844) 704-1487 to schedule the test as soon as you want. Most test centers have wide availability.
- Day 1: Test day. Visit the test center and pass the knowledge test with a 70% or more.
- Day 2-3: Your 17-digit Exam ID will have populated in the FAA database. Apply for your remote pilot license on the FAA ICARA web platform.
- Day 7-10: Your IACARA application should be processed and you will receive your certificate.*
*You will receive a temporary certificate, and a permanent one will arrive in the mail.
Finding a test center. You can find your nearest authorized test center here. They are typically flight schools. It is helpful to know which centers are closest to you and inform CATS; otherwise, you may be directed somewhere inconvenient.
Who is CATS? CATS is a test company owned by PSI Services LLC that holds the contract with the FAA to handle the scheduling for the Remote Pilot knowledge test. Just tell them which test centers are near you and they will check the schedule. You will pay for the test when you schedule, so have your credit card handy.
Step 1: The Test
This aeronautical knowledge test (i.e. test) is meant to ensure that you can safely operate sUAS in the National Airspace System in a safe manner. Much of it is common sense (should you yield to manned aircraft?), and what’s not common sense is found on the test supplement that you’re given when taking the test.
If you have no aeronautical knowledge, do not come from a science or engineering background, and have no familiarity with drones, plan on 10-15 hours total of study time to get yourself up to speed. Otherwise, plan on 5 hours or fewer.
- The test consists of 60 multiple-choice (A, B, or C) questions.
- 70% (42 correct questions) is a passing score.
- The test costs $175.
- If you do not pass, you can re-take the test after 14 days.
Upon passing your test, you will immediately receive a custom, 17-digit Exam ID number that is unique to the test you just took. This is the number that links your FAA application (Step 2) with your passing test score.
How to study for the Remote Pilot knowledge test
Disclaimer: This is the most efficient method we know for studying for (and passing) the Remote pilot knowledge test. Everyone learns differently, and it is your responsibility to learn the material to safely and legally operate sUAS in the National Airspace System.
- Skim the FAA knowledge test study guide, available here. Take note of what you are familiar with, and what’s new to you.
- Read the free 3DR study guide, available here. Every word. Especially the Regulations Cheat Sheet.
- Do the first 60 questions of the 3DR practice exam, available here. For every question you get wrong, go back to either the FAA study guide or the 3DR study guide and learn the material.
- Do the remaining 70 questions of the 3DR practice exam. If this feels comfortable, you’re already ready for the test.
- Download the study guide from Rupprecht Law, available here. Read the first 11 pages (until you get to the text blocks copied from the Code of Federal Regulations). Skip down to Part 107 (§107) and read this entire section. Do not do the practice test in the .PDF, as it’s available in a better, interactive format.
- Take the interactive 65 question test from Rupprecht Law, available here. You will need to scroll partway down the page to find it.
Do not bother with the FAA practice exam, available here if you’re curious. 3DR and Rupprecht used all those questions to build their practice tests, so you will have seen them already.
3 Myths about the Remote Pilot knowledge test
Myth: Scheduling the test is difficult.
Fact: Most flight schools and test centers are open on Saturday and Sunday, and will have immediate availability. We have seen customers schedule the test on a Saturday night and take it the following Sunday morning.
Myth: I need to buy expensive books and access to online classes.
Fact: All of the resources you need are easily accessible and free. See our links to the best free online study guides below.
Myth: I need to be an expert in aviation to pass the exam.
Fact: You should memorize the NATO alphabet if you’ve ever conducted business on the phone and want to clarify M as in “Mike” vs. N as in “November,” but that will not be on the test. For weather, if you can remember TS means “Thunderstorm,” SH means “Showers” and RA means “Rain”, you’re 80% of the way there.
Step 2: The Application
Visit https://iacra.faa.gov/ and register (gray box in the upper-right corner). Or log in if you’ve already done this before.
Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
Fill out the form. Under “Basis of Issuance” you will find the area to enter your 17-digit Exam ID.
It takes 24-48 hours for your exam results to populate in the FAA database, so if you see this error, wait another day.
Submit your application, and wait for your TSA background check to be completed. No further action is required on your part, and your temporary Remote Pilot certificate will be emailed to you. The glossy card will arrive a couple weeks later.