So… You’re going to make the plunge to become a commercial drone operator. This means a trip to your local aviation facility to take the FAA’s 60 question exam. Below I’ve compiled some of the more useful resources online for aiding in your studying efforts, as well as some anecdotal info from my experience passing the test the first week it came online.
First off, the test works on a “pick 60” method, where 60 questions are picked from a database of over 1000, and allotted roughly by category for what the FAA has designated should be covered on the test. This can lead to lots of different test question formation results, but for myself and all of my contacts who passed, they were heavily skewed towards chart analysis of various airspace factors. 38 of the questions on my test referenced a chart for interpretation. More on this below.
1. The Starting Point
3DR put together a great test prep guide with sample questions and a quiz feature that is very useful for getting proficient with the format and getting basic knowledge. Please note however, the questions on the guide are MUCH easier than the actual test, and not connotative of what you should expect. If you are getting 90 to 100% on the 3DR test, that is 25% of the battle in my opinion. 3dr.com/faa
2. The deeper overviews
a. The FAA has a thorough study guide and practice test that are worth intensive review. Most importantly, the actual summary of Part 107 itself is perfect for memorizing all the minor facts that form the low hanging fruit questions on the test. Items like the exact dollar amount threshold for submission of an accident, the exact timeframe in which you need to notify of an address change, the precise amount of weight that is the max for your drone etc are best found in this format, learn them all.
b. Our friends at Skyward also have a great comprehensive guide which is a fantastic edition to this “deeper overviews” section. These guides are where you can really get to know things like weather and temperature condition factors and how they effect flight performance, and other memorizable factor sets. https://skyward.io/part-107-resources/
Very thorough knowledge of the above gets you another 25% of the way on the test.
c. The Remote Pilot overview comes highly recommended as a paid alternative (note, I did not use this to pass, but two friends did). In addition to their paid tests, they also have made available for download several great sets of references for charts (which I cover below). Highly recommended to review these resource sheets.
Really knowing whats in the resource sheets regarding charts, codes, sequences, frequencies and symbols is the last half of the battle, and Remote Pilot is a great place to start.
3. Charts with sequences, airspace floors and ceilings etc.
You need to be able to read and interpret aeronautical charts and the data on them, and you need to be able to do it well. This isn’t something a study session or reading an overview will get you, this is the kind of thing you’re going to need to spend time on and learn in your own way, with the right resources you can find that work for you. Below are the key concepts you need to be able to interpret. Uncomfortable with any of these? Get comfortable before you take the test.
a. Interpret longitude and latitude (easy enough)
b. Radio frequencies — Identify airport frequencies like CTAF on charts, know the options for monitoring (for instance, for a certain airport on the chart, where do you monitor if it doesn’t have Unicom, and how can you find that frequency on a chart?).
c. Interpretation of tower/structure height, and calculating where you can operate (hint you can operate up to 400 ft above the structure you’re focused on, but you’ll need to calculate the structure height based on the chart key, as well as the elevation).
d. Be able to interpret the airspace of a given area and height like the above, and don’t rely on knowing the airspace from simple colored or keyed areas, know where airspace begins and ends, how heights are calculated, and what each airspace type means for operation.
e. Weather codes — Be able to determine any factors (precipitation, wind etc) from the numerical sequences airport info is presented in.
This level of analysis is 50% of more of what it’s going to take to pass. Take it seriously.
The plus side? You can get 18 wrong and still pass, which is a generous number. I recommend flagging the questions (there’s an option for this on the test computer), you don’t know, so you can monitor your number of unknowns as you go along.