FAA Certification for UAV Pilots? (**UPDATED)


Check the last bullet point in the last part of section 9.1.1.1 of the AVIATION SAFETY UNMANNED AIRCRAFT PROGRAM OFFICE AIR-160 Interim Operational Approval Guidance 08-01 (page 15):

For the PIC (Pilot IN Control) to be exempt from the pilot certificate requirement … the PIC must have successfully completed, at a minimum,FAA private pilot ground instruction, and have passed the written examination.

That seems to suggest that to get a head start on the game when the rules finally exist – take a ground school course if you’re not already a licensed pilot.

Borrowed from the web site Professional Surveyor (www.ProSurv.com):

While the details are not yet defined, the FAA Roadmap indicates that some type of operator training and certification may be required.  This may be based on the size of the aircraft and the type of airspace that it will be used in, and it could entail a new type of pilot’s license specifically for UAS.

If UAS training and certification follows the current pilot’s license training program, there will be an FAA-approved study curriculum covering regulations, airspace, air traffic control, etc. followed by an FAA written exam.  There will most likely be a required practical exam by an FAA examiner proving that the operator can safely operate their specific UAS system.

These study programs and exams will not be easy, and many people will not pass.  The current private pilot dropout rate is about 80%.  A lot of that is due to the cost of instruction and flying a real airplane.  While these new requirements are not formal yet, they are indicated as likely to happen.

What can I do now to get ready?
Learning as much as you can about general aviation rules will be important. Understanding the principles of flight, airspace, air traffic control, and even weather will most likely be some of the topics of study required for UAS certification by the FAA.  Learn more about airworthiness certifications, as there will most likely be a requirement for those in the coming rules. There are FAA certified “ground school” programs used by private pilots studying for their written exam that are worthwhile for UAS operators.  These range from printed materials to interactive online programs. –

See more at: http://www.profsurv.com/magazine/article.aspx?i=71554#sthash.7a2KL4PV.dpuf

** LOG YOUR FLIGHTS: It is also important to log all flights to document training. Practical flying experience is a part of any pilot certification and the FAA has made that very clear in this publication.(section 7)

As UAS integration and rulemaking progresses, time accrued in UAS operations may be credited in the future for UAS certificates and ratings. Therefore, UAS pilots should continue to log flight time and operational activities to include the make, model, and series (M/M/S) of UAS operated.

** MEDICAL: The requirement for a third class FAA Medical Certificate for the Observer/Spotter for standing on the ground would seem a bit excessive but here it is:

6.14 Pilot/Observer Medical Standards.
Pilots and observers must have in their possession a current third class (or higher) airman medical certificate that has been issued

The FAA anticipated completing UAS integration into our National Airspace System by September 2015… and that didn’t happen.

FYI: Side note:
Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, Subcommittee 228
RTCA SC-228, Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems
August 28, 2014 – 9 am to 5 pm EST

RTCA, 1150 18th ST NW, Suite 910, Washington, DC 20036

In particular the part that says “A second phase of MOPS [Minimum Operational Performance Standards] development is envisaged to specify DAA [Detect And Avoid?] equipment to support extended UAS operations in Class D, E, and perhaps G, airspace.”  — Presumably “heavy” UAVs, in this case.

ADS-B in/out integration? Sense and Avoid? More here…

 

While the details are not yet defined, the FAA Roadmap indicates that some type of operator training and certification may be required.  This may be based on the size of the aircraft and the type of airspace that it will be used in, and it could entail a new type of pilot’s license specifically for UAS.If UAS training and certification follows the current pilot’s license training program, there will be an FAA-approved study curriculum covering regulations, airspace, air traffic control, etc. followed by an FAA written exam.  There will most likely be a required practical exam by an FAA examiner proving that the operator can safely operate their specific UAS system.These study programs and exams will not be easy, and many people will not pass.  The current private pilot dropout rate is about 80%.  A lot of that is due to the cost of instruction and flying a real airplane.  While these new requirements are not formal yet, they are indicated as likely to happen.

What can I do now to get ready?

Learning as much as you can about general aviation rules will be important. Understanding the principles of flight, airspace, air traffic control, and even weather will most likely be some of the topics of study required for UAS certification by the FAA.  Learn more about airworthiness certifications, as there will most likely be a requirement for those in the coming rules. There are FAA certified “ground school” programs used by private pilots studying for their written exam that are worthwhile for UAS operators.  These range from printed materials to interactive online programs. – See more at: http://www.profsurv.com/magazine/article.aspx?i=71554#sthash.7a2KL4PV.dpuf

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