Do you need a license to fly a drone?

If you ever wonder do you need a license to fly a drone, this article will give you some answers. Well, it depends, if you live in the United States and you're making money by flying a drone then the answer is yes, you need a license. On the other hand, if you are flying just for fun, you don't need any license, not yet. However, the FAA recently mentioned they plan to introduce knowledge and ability tests in the near future for recreational pilots. So, according to that, even if you fly for fun you will need to pass that and have some kind of license or certificate for flying a drone. Below in this article, we will talk about flying licenses and some regulations and laws you must know as a drone pilot. 


Drone license, what is it?

A drone license is an official certificate from the FAA that is required for commercial drone operations in the United States. As we said, if you make money by flying a drone, you must have it. We will list some examples of how people make money with a drone. Some of them demonstrate aerobatics, using a drone for taking pictures then sell them, delivering packages for a fee, or determining when crops need to be watered for farming operations. For all of this, you need a drone license. 


Commercial drone pilot rules

If you already fly or planning to fly with a drone to make some money, read this carefully. There are some rules and regulations you must obey in order to get your license. According to the FAA’s Part 107 rules that include:

- drones using for this kind of work must weight less than 55 pounds

- you can't fly during the night, over people, and beyond visual line of sight

- you can't manage your drone in controlled airspace without prior permission

- all commercial drones must have Pilot Airman’s Certificate


To get a drone license, you must meet these conditions:

- successfully pass the Aeronautical knowledge test

- get a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS

- pass Transportation security administration check 

- successfully pass the Aeronautical knowledge test every two years

- be at least 16 years old

- you have 10 days to report the accident with injury or property damage over $500

- out of all these requirements, the first one, the Aeronautical knowledge test is definitely the hardest part on your way to get a drone license. The test requires a lot of knowledge and you must take around 15-20 hours of learning if you want to succeed. 


Aeronautical knowledge test

Here is some more information on this test:

- the test contains about 60 questions 

- the minimum passing score is 70%, so you need to answer correctly at least 42 questions

- every multiple-choice question have 3 possible answers

- every test question is completely independent and doesn't depend on other questions

- the test will last for 2 hours

- some question can include airspace maps

Pay attention to the following categories: weather, map reading, aeronautics, and drone performance.


Recreational drone pilot rules

This topic has been changed over the years, and as we said in the introduction it will be again changed. Some things, however, remain the same. 

- recreational drone pilot must have airspace authorization if he flys near an airport, before that was easier because all you need to do was just a simple phone call to an airport and let them know you were planning to fly

- you must fly below 400 feet, you can't fly over the group of people and in controlled airspace

- another must-have thing is registration, your drone must have registration number

- the final step from allowing you to fly with your drone is the knowledge and ability test which will take effect soon

It's good to know that there is one exception. The exception applies to people who already are licensed to fly manned aircraft. So if you are a licensed helicopter or airplane pilot you still need to complete an online test but nothing that will be a problem for you. 


Final thoughts

At the moment the license is not required for recreational drone pilots but with new knowledge and ability test coming soon the right answer to the topic of this article will be yes, you need a license to fly a drone in any case.