The FAA has announced a list of companies that will assist in building the new hobby drone knowledge exam, and how to administer it. We know this drone test is coming, we’ll all have to learn a few things and pass a little test before we can fly any drone in the near future, for now, check in with any of these organizations if you want to have a say in the matter.
Companies like DJI have already implemented small drone safety knowledge tests into their mobile applications. We hope that their approach is not far off from the finalized FAA testing, but we still have to wait to see what the final product will be.
Wait, what test?The FAA Reauthorization Bill from 2018 stated a number of changes that the FAA must enact, new laws that they, and we, must follow. From this came the need to display your drone registration on the outside of your craft, obtain airspace authorization before you fly in controlled airspace, and an upcoming need to pass a knowledge test before you can fly your drone. There is already a knowledge test in place for commercial pilots, under the Part 107 regulations, but don’t worry, the hobby test will be nothing like that.
The test and testing process are still in development. The test should be fairly easy, the FAA already displays the laws and safety guidelines you need to follow to fly your drone, we don’t expect anything more than questions to explore those known factors. As for the testing itself, this could get interesting.
As mentioned, DJI has a simple quiz built into their app that simply locks you out of the flight controls until you answer the questions correctly. As the FAA cannot lock down apps like this, the process may become an extension of the drone registration process on the FAA’s website. That said, the wording implies that there will be outside test administrators. The Part 107 test is hosted at supported testing centers across the country, not hosted at all by the FAA directly. While you can apply to the FAA directly for airspace authorization now, LAANC, which is the online, automated tool, is limited to third-party providers as well. As we say, obtaining this new hobby drone pilot certification may be nice and simple, or it can get complicated and pricey to get our hands on, we’re hoping for the former.
The process is due to be in place for early 2020.
Who is involved?
At this stage in the game, the FAA is only taking recommendations from a list of industry leaders. This group includes drone companies, legislative groups, educational entities, pilot unions, and more.
- Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
- Drone Launch Academy
- Drone Racing League
- Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
- First Person View (FPV) Freedom Coalition
- Horizon Hobby LLC
- King Schools
- Science Applications International Corp (SAIC)
- Southeastern University
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Coach
- Unmanned Safety Institute
We’re happy to see a range of drone stakeholders involved in this project, representing most recreational aspects of drone usage. Perhaps the biggest news in all this, which we’ve glossed over, is that traditional RC hobbyist groups are involved and affected. There used to be provisions that exempted RC groups from the new “drone” laws, but we are all in this together moving forward. If you haven’t reached out to your local hobby club, hit the AMA website to find them — They’ll have resources and people to help you grow in the hobby.
Stay tuned, we’ll bring you more info as it develops. For now, don’t forget to register your drone with the FAA and install that registration number on your craft before you fly.