How to Prepare for the Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot Test

Updated on July 27, 2020
Silas Still profile image

Silas is a safety professional who lead the UAS knowledge test, ALC-451 course, and the UAS Study Guide development.

UAS Knowledge Test
UAS Knowledge Test | Source

How to Prepare for the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Remote Pilot Knowledge Test

Prior to September 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibited operating an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for business. Each pilot who flew an unauthorized flight received a $10,000 fine from the FAA.

Unknowing, many modelers flew for hire that created trouble within the recreational airplane community. They designed hobby flights for recreational purposes only and not for a compensation or hire. To ease this problem, the FAA released the 107, commercial UAS operation, regulation in September 2016.

This article provides information about UAS 107 study guide material to help an applicant prepare for the remote pilot test. The two emphasis items include the online UAS course and the UAS study guide.

Part 107 Allows for Commercial UAS Operations

The part 107 rule allows for commercial UAS operations, allowing the pilot to receive payment for services rendered. Under the rule, a person without a part 61, manned pilot certificate, must pass the knowledge test to receive a remote pilot certificate. This article will offer information to prepare for the remote pilot knowledge test. UAS business ventures are endless and having a remote pilot certificate will allow pilots to fly for hire using products such as the DJI Mavic Mini to produce images of real estate and direct YouTube videos. The study material will give insight on the topics to receive a passing score on the remote pilot knowledge test.

Test Requirement

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) remote pilot certificate is a requirement before operating a UAS for commercial use. To obtain the remote pilot certificate, an applicant must pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS remote pilot knowledge test with a passing score of 70 percent or higher. Time allowed for the knowledge test is two-and-a-half hours at a Knowledge Test Center (KTC) and covers twelve categories listed in the part 107 regulation. The FAA website includes seven of the topics, and the study guide covers all areas listed in part 107.73. and training guide. The online preparation course titled ALC-451 and UAS study guide will help prepare for the test.

ALC-451 Online Course
ALC-451 Online Course | Source

UAS Online Course (ALC-451)

The FAA developed a UAS online course (ALC-451) to help prepare for the remote pilot knowledge test. However, the online course does not cover all the applicable knowledge topics associated with the remote pilot knowledge test categories listed in 107.73 (FAA, 2016). Most questions missed by non-pilot applicants include the topic areas not covered in the online preparation course.

The FAA developed the online UAS training course for manned aircraft pilots who have aviation knowledge. However, the FAA recommends non-pilots take the course to prepare for the remote pilot knowledge examination. The online course developed for manned pilots includes seven of the required topic categories (FAA, 2016). Don’t worry, the

Test Topics
Test Topics | Source

Test Topics

The FAA requires the knowledge test for all remote pilot applicants who do not hold a part 61, manned aircraft certificate. The online training course contains seven of the twelve topic areas.

Five topics not included in the online course require the use of the study guide or hire a training instructor to teach the knowledge subjects. Five topic areas not included in the online training course include airspace, radio communications, physiological effects, Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM), and airport operations. Each of the five topics not listed in the online course require the use of the UAS study guide. Other options include meeting with an instructor for a ground training event to cover the material (FAA, 2016).

Part 107 Knowledge Test Study Guide

  1. Regulation
  2. Airspace
  3. Weather
  4. Loading and performance
  5. Emergency procedures
  6. CRM
  7. Radio communications
  8. Performance
  9. Physiological Effects (drugs and alcohol)
  10. ADM
  11. Airport operations
  12. Maintenance and inspection

UAS Study Guide

The FAA developed a UAS study guide to enhance learning for a person who does not hold a manned aircraft pilot certificate and lacks aviation knowledge. Using the UAS study guide supports an applicant who has limited aviation knowledge.

The FAA knowledge test covers twelve topic areas, includes 60 questions, and allows the applicant two-and-a-half hours to complete the test. A failure of multiple sections of the knowledge test will allow a person to pass the knowledge test with a score of 70 percent or greater (FAA, 2016).

UAS Study Guide
UAS Study Guide | Source

The Most Commonly Missed Questions on the Test

The percentage of questions missed on the test includes airspace at 75.5 percent, weather at 78.3 percent, loading and performance at 80.6 percent, regulations at 80.6 percent, and operations at 88.1 percent.

Two areas most applicants miss on the UAS knowledge test are the airspace and weather questions. A further review highlights applicants may miss up to 17 items out of 60 or fail two topic areas and pass the knowledge test with an overall passing score of 70 percent (FAA, 2016). The table below lists the most frequent topics missed on the test.

Missed Questions
Missed Questions | Source

Final Thought

The UAS study guide and material will help prepare an applicant to take the FAA remote pilot knowledge test. Using the UAS study guide and taking the online ALC-451 course will prepare an applicant to master the twelve topic areas found on the examination. Each of the study elements will help prepare for the UAS remote pilot knowledge test.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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