FAA Drone Pilot CertificateThe FAA’s TRUST test for recreational drone pilots has arrived

June 22, 2021by helo-10
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If you’re a drone pilot flying in the United States, you’ll want to pay attention to this one: The FAA’s new testing system is now in effect. You can select a testing organization and take the TRUST test free of charge.

We wrote about this back in March. And here are the basics: With an ever-increasing number of drones in the air, the FAA wants to ensure that pilots understand the basics about the National Airspace, safety procedures, No-Fly Zones, and more. And the best way to ensure pilots have that basic knowledge?

With a basic test.

A test?

Yup. Officially, it’s called the Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety Test, or TRUST. The test has already been developed, and the FAA has selected a number of initial testing organizations and operators around the US. Here’s what FAA administrator Steve Dickson has to say in the regulator’s news release about the 16 organizations selected (so far) and their role:

These organizations are key to making this test widely available and easily accessible to recreational drone pilots. We need pilots of all aircraft, including those who operate recreational drones, to have the training and knowledge needed to operate safely in the nation’s airspace.

Okay. So who’s going to be testing?

The testers

Back in March, the FAA put out a call for organizations wishing to be considered as official testers. The FAA now has a list of 16. Here they are:

  • The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)
  • The Boy Scouts of America
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Community College of Allegheny County–West Hills Center
  • CrossFlight Sky Solutions LLC
  • Drone Launch Academy LLC
  • Drone U
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)
  • HSU Educational Foundation
  • Lake Area Technical College
  • Pilot Institute
  • Proctorio Incorporated
  • Tactical Aviation
  • UAV Coach
  • University of Arizona Global Campus
  • Volatus Aerospace Corp

Now what?

Well, since the program is now officially underway, we’d recommend that you contact one of the authorized Testing Administrators listed. You can find them at this FAA link. The test is provided online. Here’s more from the FAA:

After passing the test, recreational drone flyers will be issued a completion certificate which they are required to show if asked by FAA or law enforcement personnel. The completion certificate does not expire. Recreational drone flyers should take the test at their earliest convenience. 

FYI, this process didn’t just come out of the blue. Congress required the testing program through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, and the drone community was invited to provide input for the test development.

Will it be difficult?

It shouldn’t really be too hard. The Trust Administrators will provide online study materials that clearly outline the knowledge requirements. Because these certificates are for recreational pilots, it’s not expected that TRUST will be as comprehensive as, say, writing the Part 107.

The FAA’s TRUST logo…

But it will be required for all recreational pilots. Once you’ve passed, you’ll receive a certificate that must be carried with you while flying and presented to FAA officials or law enforcement if requested. The Test Administrators will not maintain any of your personal information, so if you lose the certificate, you’ll have to do the TRUST exam again.

DroneDJ’s take

We get it. This will be unpopular with some drone pilots, many of whom feel there are already many restrictions on where and how they can fly.

However, Airspace safety is important. Ensuring drone pilots have at least basic knowledge of height limitations, the dangers of flying near airports, etc., is just common sense. We recommend that you sign up early, take the online exam, and get on with your hobby.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.

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