FAA’s Jay Merkle on Knowledge Test for Recreational Flyers: “we want it to be fun”
The Federal Aviation Administration revealed new details on the plans for the upcoming Knowledge Test for Recreational Flyers. And you probably don’t need to sweat if you have a fear of taking tests.
Jay Merkle, Executive Director at the FAA’s UAS Integration Office said he intends for it to be “a fun, enjoyable format instead of a restrictive, dull format” during a Drone Advisory Committee meeting held last week in Washington, D.C.
Merkle stated that the real goal of this test “is to have the knowledge to operate safely,” according to a document quoting Merkle that contained meeting minutes, publicly released after the meeting. “We are proposing a narrative-style training and testing module. It is going to be for the community. “
The FAA is still working to determine what questions the knowledge test would ask, how testing fees would be set, if there is a testing age floor and how data will be collected and made available. Many of those determinations are based on responses to a “request for information,” (RFI) that the FAA put out earlier this year that sought input from the community. That RFI period closed on Sept. 19 after receiving nearly 40 submissions.
Though, the FAA said that the work to draft knowledge test content and questions is 95% complete.
But it likely won’t be too hard. Merkle stated that the test would be “practical and easy,” and material should be provided in a user-friendly rather than prescriptive format.
That’s unlike the test for commercial drone pilots, which requires fairly intensive knowledge of the airspace and can’t be passed on common sense alone.
Currently, commercial drone pilots must take and pass the Part 107 Aeronuatical Knowledge Test for UAS operators. That test asks intricate questions around airspace classification, reading sectional charts, weather patterns and more (I recommend using online training course Drone Pilot Ground School to study!). Pass the test, and you’ll get a license, which allows you to operate under the standards set under Part 107. The test, which was launched in 2016, must be taken in-person at an approved test center and typically entails a $150 fee.
Also, much unlike the commercial drone pilot Part 107 test, the recreational test won’t be administered by a Knowledge Testing Center. Instead, the FAA will be creating public-private partnerships to provide the test, indicating it will likely be something that can be taken online or through apps from drone players, such as Kittyhawk, which is an airspace management tool. It could also be largely similar to a feature DJI already builds into its own app, which forces users to take a fairly simple knowledge quiz before they take off on their first flight.
“We want this test to be as approachable as possible,” Merkle said. “We want to take the test to gain the knowledge and build a safety culture.”
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