Keeping your Part 107 certificate up to date is important as we see more and more remote pilots pass the two-year mark from their original testing.
All FAA certificated airmen are required to undergo some sort of recurrency process every 24 calendar months. Keep in mind that your certificate does not expire. It may be suspended or even revoked, but it does not expire. It is your legal ability to use your certificate that must be refreshed.
Remote Pilots earned their certificate by passing an initial Knowledge Test containing 60 multiple choice questions. This certificate allowed you to exercise the privileges of the certificate for the next 24 calendar months. Prior to the end of the 24th month, you are required to pass a Recurrency Test to maintain the legal ability to use your certificate.
The Recurrency Test process is similar to your initial Knowledge Test since you take the test at a PSI/CATS testing center and the cost is the same: $150. Some good news is that the Recurrency Tesy is a bit shorter, with just 40 multiple choice questions this time.
Typically, the focus is heavy on sectional charts, airspace, and FAA regulations.
Since so much of the Recurrent Test is based on charts and airspaces, you should seriously consider getting a full refresher on this material. The FAA publishes the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide and it is available for free online. This is an excellent resource for looking up symbols, especially the obscure ones.
But using it to initially learn about sectionals is like trying to learn a foreign language from a dictionary. The FAA also publishes an 87-page Remote Pilot Study Guide. This gives some rudimentary coverage of sectional charts and airspaces, but it is still slim pickin’s.
Quality guided training can be very helpful. YouTube can be a resource for some of this, but remain aware that the person “teaching” in the video may know little more about sectional charts than you do. It’s one of those cases where the training is free and worth every penny of it.
There are lots of Remote Pilot training programs available online. The quality varies from really great to, well, less than good.
My personal example: When I decided to go for it and pursue my 14 CFR Part 107 certificate, I approached this from being an educator myself. I have been teaching technology courses for more than 15 years and having a unique perspective like this gave me the insight to find the best course available. This was very important to me since this is the foundation for my new career and cutting corners was not an option.
The one that checked all the boxes on my list of requirements was Gold Seal due to its track record and experience with online aviation training. The materials were easy to assimilate and learn from.
Most other similar online courses are similarly priced, but $199 is a small investment for your professional career. Gold Seal, for example, offers a standalone Recurrent Test ground school for only $50, which is a no-brainer for the time savings and guidance to prepare you for the test.
Changes coming down the road?
Recently, the FAA released a draft proposing changes to the operation of UAS. These proposed changes refer to night flying and flying over people, but it also addresses changes in the recurrency process. The proposal states “requiring recurrent training every 24 months, in lieu of recurrent knowledge testing.”
The training would be deployed online and tailored to address areas of knowledge the pilot may need improvement on. Also, there would not be the need to travel to a testing center every 24 months since the training and questions would be completed online.
This proposal also appears to offer a much more flexible and dynamic structure to accommodate potential changes as UAS operations continue to evolve.