FAA recurrent test for drone pilots

FAA recurrent test for drone pilots set to go live in April

Update for April 2021: The FAA recurrent test went live on April 6, 2021. Learn more about the FAA’s Remote Pilot recurrent online training here including a preview of the course, links to the right course for you and more.

Next month, you’ll no longer have to take an in-person, written test in order to keep your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate current. As was announced as part of a series of new drone policy changes under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Final Rule on Remote ID — which was released in December 2020, —  the requirement to complete an in-person, FAA recurrent test every 24 calendar months will be replaced with a much simpler requirement: pilots must complete a free, online recurrent training course, upon which you’ll receive a printable completion certificate.

And now, we finally have a date for when the new FAA recurrent test goes live. An FAA spokeperson confirmed to The Drone Girl that the new test will go live on April 6, 2021.

The new version of the FAA recurrent test, which is simply an online training course, will be free and available on www.FAASafety.gov.

What are the old Part 107 recurrent test rules?

Up until April 5, 2021, pilots with a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (which is required in order to operate drones commercially) had to take a written, in-person test every 24 months to keep their certificates current.

Much like taking the initial drone test, the recurrent knowledge testing process required pilots to book a testing appointment at one of around 700 FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States and achieve at least a 70% score to pass. It was a fairly cumbersome process (and costly, as testing fees can be about $150, depending on the test center.

What will the new FAA recurrent test be like?

When it goes live in April 6, it won’t be much of a test at all — it’s more of an online training course. There will be new information, including updated rules around flying drones at night.

You’ll be able to access it for free through www.FAASafety.gov (you’ll need to be logged in to do so).

Once you finish the online course, you’ll receive a digital completion certificate (which you should print out and stash in your drone bag in case you need to reference it).

What drone pilots need to know between now and April 6

Part 107 certificates don’t “expire”. They lapse. Even if your certificate lapses, say, tomorrow, you won’t have to take the initial exam all over again. It may have lapsed already, but once you take the online training course, available April 6, you’ll be current again.

If your drone pilot’s license has lapsed and you want to keep your certificate current (say, you have a commercial drone job booked for March 30), you’ll still need to take the recurrent exam in-person. Otherwise you have some options:

  • If possible, re-book your job for April 7 (or later), and save yourself the time and money in taking the in-person recurrent test.
  • Find someone else who has a current Remote Pilot Certificate who can come with you. While every commercial drone operation must have a Remote Pilot in Command (meaning someone whose certifications are current) onsite, that person doesn’t necessarily need to be the drone operator.

18 Comments

  • Doug Oldeack says:

    awesome ,thanks for the info !

    • SB says:

      So I have a question regarding The currency of the part 107 if you have or are about to let it lapse? The way I understand it is that you’ll be eligible to take the on line training on April 6 however once completed your part 107 will not become valid until April 21 when the new FAA rules take affect. This contradicts the reschedule you job to April 7th that you mentioned, hopefully you can clarify this.? thank you!

  • Tom Bertrand says:

    Still trying to “nail it.” Unferstand it will be an online training course but when you read “it won’t be much of a test” then I envision there will be a test. Uf so, is there a passing grade? Or will it just be a “log in and read?” Or, is it simply we are just not sure.

  • Kelly Shores says:

    This is great information! I have my recurrent coming up, so this is great to know. This is the first place I have seen this information, so thank you!

    • Sally French says:

      Yay, so glad it was helpful!

      • Nate says:

        I’m a part 61 pilot who got the part 107 license. I don’t have a current flight review and I don’t plan on flying airplanes anymore. Can I just take the new recurrent course in April to keep my part 107 license current or will I still be required to complete a flight review under my part 61 license first. I haven’t seen the FAA provide any guidance on this scenario

        • Tracy Ray Archer says:

          The FAA does specify the guidance. By clicking on “Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent – Non-Part 61 Pilots”, the description is, ” For part 61 pilot certificate holders with a current flight review (in accordance with 14 CFR § 61.56), successful completion of this online training satisfies the recurrent training requirement to remain current as a part 107 remote pilot with an sUAS rating. Note: Individuals without a part 61 pilot certificate or those without a current flight review may satisfy the recurrent requirement by completing the separate online training for non-part 61 pilots (ALC-677).”

          Don’t make the same mistake that I did. This afternoon, I enrolled in and completed the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent – Part 61 Pilots, went through the course (2hr 40min), took the 45 question exam (13min) and received the certificate. Got to questioning whether this was the correct course (ALC-515) and did some more checking. By clicking on the course right above this one (on faasafety.gov) the description for the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent – Non-Part 61 Pilots, the description clearly states, ” . . . For non-part 61 pilot certificate holders (or part 61 certificate holders without a current flight review . . .” I enrolled in and went through that course (ALC-677) – only took 7 minutes because this course was EXACTLY THE SAME as Course Number ALC-515, retook the test (only took 7 minutes this second time around). The questions and answer choices were EXACTLY THE SAME as the first time. The questions were in the same order 1 through 45, however, it did appear that some of the answer choices were rearranged.

  • Alfredo says:

    Great News!! I have question: I am studying to take the Part 107 exam in person by the end of March, so if I don’t want to go in person, when I can make the app to take the online test? Do you know how will be this FAA test? So just a test no more a exam? Thank you so much for the info

  • Justin says:

    Thank you so much for this information! Do you happen to know will you then need to be sent a new UAS ID card? Or just keep the paperwork with you to show you are up to date? Thank you!

  • Chuck N says:

    My Part 107 Certificate expires at the end of March. Can I wait until after April 6th to take my recurrent test to renew my certificate?

  • Jammie Bradshaw says:

    is the online test only for those that have taken the in person part 107?

  • Dudley Warner says:

    I was searching a number of sites including the FAA to find out specifics about the new training to satisfy the requirements for recency for Part 107. Your website provided all the info. I needed to get registered and up to speed with how the new system works. Now I am part way through the training. I really appreciate you providing this information.

  • Willliam Crowe says:

    Thanks to your site I didn’t take the recurrent exam when my 107 expired in December of 2020. I waited till yesterday, April 6th, and did the online training to satisfy my 107 recurrent requirements. You save me the $160 testing fee. I didn’t have any jobs come up so it worked out great.

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