Stephen Vantassel here wildlife control consultant. Giving another episode of Living the Wildlife. Hey, I just recently passed my — drone license. Yeah. I am now eligible to get licensed as a for commercially flying drones, so I thought I would talk a little bit about that today because some wildlife control operators, maybe even pest control operators, or thinking about using drones. These are flight drones, not not the ones that move on the ground. I’m not talking about those. I don’t think those are under FAA rules because they don’t fly. So I’m just referring to the drones that would fly in they’re called small on manned aircraft systems. So UAS is kind of the technical term for them.
So you have to have a license to fly drones commercially.
So let’s talk a little bit about the process here, I’m not going to talk about what drone you should purchase or whether you should have a drone. I’m just merely saying if you’re looking to use a drone in your business.
What’s the process for how to get licensed that’s what I’m talking about here because I’m still learning on the side, but I’m learning it firsthand. And it has undoubtedly been an exciting journey to be sure.
So anyways, the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, they regulate the airspace in the United States. So, if you’re in Canada, you would need to deal with your Canadian counterpart of that agency up there.
I’m only talking about American airspace when we’re talking about drones here, so if you’re listening from outside the U.S., my apologies. What I’m going to talk to you about today doesn’t have much relevance for you.
So we’re just talking about people that are looking to fly drones commercially in the United States. The first question you have to ask yourself is, are you going to use your drone commercially or as a hobby?
I’ll let you decide how that works out primarily. But the point is if it’s part of your business and you’re getting paid for doing the work even if you’re not explicitly paid for using the drone. But still part of your business, it’s a commercial drone.
You just don’t want to play around with this. I mean, if you’re playing with a drone, you know, you’re with the kids, and you’re just out, you know, joyriding around, taking pictures of things, and flying around.
That’s a hobby. If you’re using it as a business and it’s part of your business model that’s commercial, you need to have a license.
So step number one, if you’re going to get a drone, everyone at least at this time and I’m talking in 2019 everyone who has a drone whether it’s a hobby drone or a commercial drone you need to register your drone with the FAA.
It’s for five dollars. I think it lasts for two years. You have to go to the FAA and register your drone, whether it’s a hobby drone or a commercial drone use for commercial use. OK, so that has to be done regardless.
I’m sure many people aren’t doing it. But if you’re going to be doing it commercially, you’d better do it. OK.
Drone Pilot Certification
So now, if you’re looking to become a pilot, you have to pass what is called the 107 certification.
Now, essentially what part 107 is it’s dealing with unmanned aircraft systems drones, you’re becoming a pilot. And so, you’re going to be learning a lot of the things that you’re going to be testes on.
You’re going to be tested on much material that a manned pilot has to know. So this is called the knowledge base test. So when you’re becoming a manned plane pilot, you have to pass a knowledge test. Will the drone test is based on that manned aircraft knowledge test. Now, a manned pilot has also to demonstrate flying competency. Now, they don’t ask us, they don’t require us to have pass competency tests in terms of our ability to handle the drone, but we do have to pass the knowledge base test. And so let’s talk a little about that. When you’re interested in becoming a commercial drone pilot, you have to get this license.
Cost to Take A Drone License Exam
It costs a hundred and fifty dollars to take the exam. And you would sign up at a licensing center that would typically be located near an airport if you’re near a major airport. You have it because it’s proctored.
You can’t just go in and do this online without someone watching. You have to go to various testing stations to get licensed. Before you even begin to do that, you’ve got to start studying.
So you’re going to go to Google search on FAA part 1 0 7. FAA is one word, apart is the second word, and 107 third word, you would put that into your Google search or whatever search engine you’re using. And you’re going to look at the FAA a fact sheet information that’s going to tell you what you need to do. So it’s going to have some things you can download there, and it is going to be a pilot’s handbook.
And you’re going to download this information there’s going to be other materials there, and you’re going to learn. Start reading and learning how to prepare for the tests. What is the test cover? The test covers how to read a sectional chart, which is unusual in it. This is the chart that tells you what airspace you’re going to be flying in. It’s going to teach you how to read weather reports called METAR’s in TAFE’s.
These are it’s almost like a reading of foreign language because of all the abbreviations that they use.
You’ll learn how to read those because when you do a commercial pilot, there are many rules that you need to follow.
Some Rule For Flying A Commercial Drone
Let me list a few of them for you. You can only fly your drone during daylight hours, 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunrise. When you’re flying in those 30 minute periods, you have to have anti-collision lights on that can be viewed for 3 statute miles.
If you’re flying, invisibility is 3 statute miles, and you can only fly in unrestricted airspace. Unless you have permission, this means if you’re near some major airports and you want to do an inspection, the house that you’re working with may be in restricted airspace.
So you have to know that that’s why you have to learn how to read the charts. You have to keep your drone underneath a ceiling of 400 feet above ground level or no more than 400 feet above the highest object.
So if you’re inspecting a thousand-foot aerial tower, you can go 400 feet above that tower. I am assuming that you have permission to fly in that particular airspace.
You have to make sure that you a plan for where you can land it. You have to keep records about maintenance because there’s no liability involved. You can’t be flying over densely populated areas or where there are crowds without some sort of a plan in case something goes wrong.
You have to maintain visual eye contact with your drone; you can’t just simply send that around a building and not have your eyes on that particular drone. There’s a lot to it. I don’t want to make it sound more than what it is, but it’s not just simply go into a store buying a drone and using it. It’s sort of like driving a car, right?
I mean, there are many things involved with driving a vehicle that you need to know about to do it safely in where there are no problems. So how do you prepare for this taste test? Already talked about some materials from the FAA, you’ll want to read that there’s a lot of YouTube videos on preparing for the part 107 exams. View many of them; as you would like to keep some of them, they are helpful. I’m not trashing them here. I’m just saying that they’re helpful. I just want you to be careful about how old the videos are because the FAA continues to modify the test.
Testing For Becoming A Commercial Drone Pilot
What is the test? The test is 60 questions multiple choice; you have three options, not one out of four options, its only three options. And you have to get a 70% to pass. So far, it doesn’t sound too scary, right? But I’ll tell you have just taken it some of the questions are tricky.
I thought I studied pretty aggressively. I was amazed at the number of questions that I had no idea where that information was. So just truth in advertising, I’m not here to brag. I was fortunate enough.
I got a 90 on the test. But I’ll be frank with you. I don’t know how I did that. I thought it would be much a little bit lower than that. OK. There were several questions that I had no idea where that information was.
So how did I prepare for the test? Well, let me give you some insight how I did it. I was referred to a particular YouTube video, which I thought was pretty good. Let me give you how to find it. Do a search on YouTube for the FAA part 107 drone CERT, C E R T by Tony and Chelsea Northrup, and N O R T H R U P.
If you just search for a drone test, he’ll come up because he is one of the most chosen videos he’s got. I think over one hundred thousand views. It’s about an hour and forty-five-minute summary prep class for the test.
Very good. Very well done. It’s getting a little dated, however, because he talks about learning the various ways to use air pilot language like, you know, Fox Trot, Quebec as ways of doing letters and I didn’t get tested on any of that.
Videos Available on Youtube To Prep For Drone Exam
So his video but it nevertheless, he has much helpful information. It’s still valuable, and it doesn’t cost you a thing worthwhile. There are others that you can undoubtedly view but understand, if you’re as technical or precise as I tend to be, you are going to notice that sometimes you’re going to see some contradictions. Like one person would say, hobbyists don’t need to get their drones registered because the FAA changed that rule.
So understand that one instructor speaking at a different time, maybe something contradictory with what someone else said. If that sort of thing bothers you as it does me, then you’re going to need to pay very close attention to the time when that video was made. And you want one that’s been done in the same year, most likely as the time you’re to be taken the test.
If you’re able to overcome some of that concern, then obviously looking at a lot of the videos are going to help reinforce critical ideas because you have got to learn how to read the charts. You’ve got to learn how to read the weather reports. And there’s going to be a bunch of other questions in there as well.
So what I did was I looked at several videos sometimes, I looked at them twice. You’d be taking notes you can because you’re learning a whole new world here that’s not normal for most of us that aren’t aircraft pilots. But I went and took the time to study under a paid program where I paid someone to tutor me in. So the program that I used and I don’t make any money on this.
So if you’re wondering, it’s just what I used. I felt it worked for me; it might work for you. It’s called remotepilot101.com https://remotepilot101.com/ Now, it cost me $150 to take the course. It was probably about at least 15 hours of training.
So one of the things that I liked about it was the talks not only about what you need to pass the test, which is essential obviously, that’s why you got to pass the test. But he also gives you insight on how to keep the record-keeping in some of the legal issues that you’re going to have to think about when you’re using your drone.
The instructor is an actual manned pilot, and he’s done this video training course. Then he updates it, so you’ll see you’ll have a video, then maybe there’ll be another video, and so sometimes he’ll say you’re ready for the quiz and then there’s no quiz because he has another video inserted. After all, they keep updating it.
The other beauty of this training is that once you pay your fee, you have it for life because every two years, you have to get you to have to re-certify to maintain your commercial license. So what he does is if once you’ve taken his class, you’re able to come back in and get a refresher at no additional cost. So if you’re going to be serious about your work and you’re thinking about this is going to be something long term, then you don’t have just to keep paying for this training.
They’re going to keep updating it over time so that you learn how to pass the test if you take it the second time. So what happens if you fail? Well, if you fail, you’re out your hundred and fifty bucks in the time it took you to take the test. I didn’t mention the study; you have two hours to answer those 60 questions.
If you fail, you can retake the exam in two weeks. That’s as soon as you can take it. You’ll have to re-register again with your testing agency and then take that test again and passed. Again, there is a relatively high passing rate.
You have to take this seriously. You are learning a whole new world, things like B airspace, C airspace, D airspace, E airspace, and G airspace. You’re going to be learning about different types of fog, whether what cumulonimbus clouds the stages of thunderstorms, wind shear, and standing lenticular clouds.
So there’s going to be many terms that you’re going to need to memorize. By the way, even more, I did all this studying I still had questions as I said before I didn’t know about one of the questions I got hit with was if you bought a drone that was registered in another country and you bring it to the U.S. what do you have to do?
Well, none of the reading that I or study what I did, I come across that maybe I forgot it. I don’t know. It just didn’t ring a bell to me. So it looked to be completely brand new, and I’m looking at this like, oh my gosh, where do I get the answer for this.
Well, it turns out that you need to register it here in the United States. And cancel the registration, I believe, elsewhere. I think that’s what I answered on the questions on trying to remembering. So the point is, is that even when you get questions wrong again, no one cares, right? You pass or fail.
But you do want to make sure you put your time into taking the class, doing your reading. I spoke to one gentleman, and he didn’t take one of these online training courses he just studied the video I think he studied another video or two, that was out there found that online test the FAA has an online test I wasn’t able to find that one, and did some practice tests then he just went in and took the exam and passed. There you go. So you may not need to do all this extra work, but if it’s something you’re interested in doing, look into it.
Insurance You May Need To Carry As A Commercial Drone Pilot
Make sure you contact your insurance company talks about getting insurance for drones, or there are other insurance companies out there that will also ensure your drone. And sometimes they’ll do it by time so that you only have to buy insurance for the limited period that you’re going to be using it.
Because again, when you’re starting to use it commercially, and something terrible happens, like it goes through a window, plate, glass window, or crashes in someone’s BMW, you’re going to have a way to pay for all that.
Hope that’s helpful for you I’ll probably have some more updates about drone work because once I get my license in the mail, I’m going to be looking forward to playing the drone that I have and I’ll have much more to say about this down the road for you. But thanks for listening again. I’m Stephen Vantassel. Wildlife control consultant. I would love to get feedback from you’ve gotten some already email@example.com
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE
Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC
Helping people resolve conflicts with wildlife through teaching, training, writing, and research