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How to Get a Drone License with an Existing Part 61 Certificate – Droneblog


If you’ve checked out the blog lately, you’ve probably seen plenty of posts discussing how first-time drone pilots throughout the United States can obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.

That’s the commercial drone license.

How to Get a Drone License with an Existing Part 61 CertificateHow to Get a Drone License with an Existing Part 61 Certificate
Image: Depositphotos

However, what if you have an existing license like a Part 61 and want to get your Part 107 certificate? It’s a different process entirely. You need an FAA Safety Team account, then you have to take an online training course and send in Form 8710-13 (okay, that part is the same).

I’ll be your guide through the process of becoming a certified Part 107 pilot with an existing Part 61 license, offering instructions on registrations and answering questions that pop up along the way!

What is a Part 61 certificate?

A Part 61 license is assigned to ground instructors, flight instructors, and non-drone pilots according to 14 CFR Part 61 rules.

If you hold this license, you will have undergone 250 hours of flight time for Commercial Pilot License training and 40 hours of flight time for Private Pilot License training.

The training can include flight training devices, flight simulators, or operating actual aircraft.

The FAA requires Part 61 pilots interested in becoming commercial drone pilots to have received a flight review in the last 24 months or more recently.

» MORE: Best Part 107 Online Test Prep Courses

Here’s how to get a commercial drone license with an existing Part 61 certificate

The Remote Pilot Certificate or Part 107 license is an appealing prospect for Part 61 license holders.

It opens more doors financially and professionally and allows pilots to develop new skills as they learn how to operate a drone.

Since you already have recorded flight experience as a Part 61 license holder, you don’t have to go through nearly the same lengths as first-time Part 107 pilots do. Here are the requirements to get licensed.

» MORE: How I Passed the Part 107 Knowledge Test

Make an account on the FAA Safety Team site

The FAA Safety Team, abbreviated as FAASTeam, is a free FAA website with resources for pilots, including webinars, seminars, and courses. You may already have an account associated with your Part 61 license, but if you don’t, you’ll have to create one.

Let’s review the steps.

  1. Visit the FAASTeam website here.
  2. Navigate to the top right of the page, where you will see a “Welcome Guest” message. Underneath the areas where you can log in, you will see a “New to FAASafety.org?” section with a Create an Account link. Click it.
  3. Review the Privacy Act Statement.
  4. Under the Register for FAASafety.gov Services section, input your email address twice.
  5. Check whether you have an Airman Certificate.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Begin the account registration by typing in your first and last name, including your suffix.
  8. Create a Display Name, which can include a company name or a nonlegal name. You can also use your legal name.
  9. Answer three security questions. If you ever have to change the email address associated with your FAASTeam account or lose your password, you will have to type in the answers to the questions, so choose carefully. The FAA might also use these questions for identify verification purposes.
  10. Type your zip code, and check the box if you’re using an FPO or APO zip code or if your zip code isn’t valid in the US.
  11. Check a relevant certificate and rating. The options include:
    • Senior Parachute Rigger
    • Master Parachute Rigger
    • sUAS – Remote Pilot
    • Control Tower Operator
    • Repairman
    • Recreational Pilot
    • Sport Pilot
    • Student Pilot
    • Private Pilot
    • Commercial Pilot
    • Airline Transport Pilot
    • Flight Navigator
    • Mechanic with Powerplant
    • Inspection Authorization
    • Mechanic with Airframe and Powerplant
    • Mechanic with Airframe
    • Repairman Light Sport Aircraft
    • Repairman Experimental Aircraft
    • Repairman Experimental Aircraft
    • Ground Instructor
    • Flight Instructor
    • Flight Engineer
    • Dispatcher
    • Authorized Aircraft Instructor
  12. Click Continue.
  13. FAASTeam will email you with a temporary password. Log in with that password, then change it.

» MORE: What Can You Do With a Part 107 License?

Take the Part 107 Small UAS Initial online training course

Next, the FAA requires you to enroll in a training course called the ALC-451 or Part 107 Small UAS Initial. The course is offered exclusively online and reviews many FAA drone regulations.

For example, you will learn about flying at night, preflight inspections and maintenance, drone performance, managing crew resources, emergency procedures, how weather affects drone flights, and drone limitations, privileges, and regulations.

The course is free to enroll in; you can click here to sign up.

Here is a breakdown of the course materials.

  • Introduction
  • Aircraft and Remote Pilot in Command Requirements
    • Characteristics and Requirements for sUAS
    • Remote Pilot in Command Responsibilities
  • Rules for Safe Operation of sUAS
    • Abnormal and Emergency Situations

Each module contains an accompanying webpage full of information, usually text-based, accompanied by images. The start of every module includes a short video.

As you complete the material in the module, you will have to answer questions as part of the Knowledge Check.

After completing the modules, you must take an exam. When you pass, you’ll receive a certificate like this.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots (Step-by-Step Guide)

Submit Form 8710-13 to IACRA

Congratulations on passing the ALC-451 test. Next, you’re ready to submit your application to IACRA, short for the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application.

You may already have an IACRA account as a Part 61 pilot. However, if you don’t, you will first have to create one. Here’s how.

  1. Visit the IACRA website here.
  2. Select the Register link on the upper right of the page below the username and password login boxes.
  3. Review the available roles and select the most relevant ones. The options include Admin, Certifying Officer, Instructor, and Applicant. The roles under Instructor are Recommending Instructor (CFR SIC, 141, 61, and 65), 142 Recommending Instructor (CFR 142), Chief/Assistant Chief Flight Instructor (CFR 141), and Air Carrier Flight Instructor (CFR 121, 135). The Certifying Officer roles are:
    • Training Center Evaluator (DMS – TCE 121, 135, and 142)
    • Designated Examiner (DMS – DADE, SAE, and DPE)
    • Aviation Safety Technician (FAA)
    • Aviation Safety Inspector (FAA)
    • Airman Certification Representative (FIRC)
    • Airman Certification Representative (DMS – ADMIN PE, SAE, and DPE)
    • Aircrew Program Designee (DMS – APD 121/135)
  4. Read the IACRA terms of service, then click Agree to TOS and Continue.
  5. Input your Airman Certificate Number as relevant to your role, adding the date of issuance in month, date, year format. You can skip this section depending on the role you select.
  6. Type your Personal Information, including your first, middle, and last name, then your date of birth (same month, date, year format), and email address. Check one bubble for gender.
  7. Just as you did when creating an account on FAASTeam, IACRA requires you to select security questions and type in answers. You only need to create two unique answers.
  8. Select an IACRA username and password, then confirm the password by typing it again.
  9. Click Register.
  10. IACRA will email you with an account confirmation. Click the link in the email and log in.

Next, go back to the IACRA homepage and click Start New Application to begin. Answer Pilot for the Application Type and Remote Pilot for the Certifications category. Next, click Other Path Information, then Start Application.

You must electronically sign the form, then send it in for processing.

» MORE: Renewal of Your Part 107 Certificate – 5 Steps to a Part 107 sUAS Recurrent Certificate

Get Your Identity Validated

While IACRA processes Form 8710-13, print the completed form and take it to a verifying party. Your options include a certified flight instructor, an airman certificate representative, an FAA-designed pilot examiner, or an FAA Flight Standards District Officer.

Besides Form 8710-13, you must also have your course completion certificate and a valid photo ID.

When the representative sees your form, they’ll sign it and give you a Part 107 certificate. The FAA will send a permanent version of your license through the mail, but it will take at least a few weeks.

» MORE: Your Questions About Part 107 Answered

I have my drone license – Now what?

Congratulations on earning your Part 107 license. The sky is the limit barring a few tasks you must complete first.

One is registering your drone, which the FAA requires for commercial operation. The fee to register is only $5 per drone, and the registration is valid for the next three years.

You should learn United States drone laws to delve deeper into state and local regulations and ordinances where you live so you can fly safely and legally.

I also caution you to consider drone insurance if you don’t yet have it, even if you are an experienced pilot. After all, flying a drone is different than flying other types of aircraft, and insurance will protect you while you learn.

The permanent Remote Pilot Certificate expires within two years. You can keep your commercial license current by enrolling in the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent (ALC-515) online course every two years.

» MORE: Become a Commercial Drone Pilot in 6 Easy Steps (Beginners Guide)