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Own a Drone in the US? You've Got to Do This Before Your Next Flight

Own a Drone in the US? You've Got to Do This Before Your Next Flight

The FAA has some new regulations you have to follow as a drone pilot, regardless of whether you're just flying recreationally, or even if you already hold the Part 107 certification. Fortunately, compliance is free and easy, and you can do it right now.

As part of the FAA's 2018 Reauthorization bill, a number of new requirements were introduced for recreational pilots, notable among them the requirement to pass the "The Recreational UAS Safety Test," or TRUST. This bit of education and testing is available online for free. The FAA authorized a number of organizations to actually administer the test, which is basically a set of slides and a few multiple-choice questions, and results in you being issued a personalized certificate. Fortunately, the test is no-fail, allowing you to quickly address any incorrect answers.

That completion certificate is good forever (or at least until the regulations change again), but can't be reissued, as there's no collection of personal information. With that in mind, make sure you keep your copy of the certificate safe. I'd suggest sticking a printed copy with your drone, as well as maintaining a digital copy on a cloud service like Dropbox, ensuring you always have access to it. Also, you still need to display your FAA-issued registration number on the outside of the drone, as well as have this new certificate to present upon request, so make sure you're keeping all your documentation straight.

As alluded to in the intro, you also have to take this test if you're already a holder of a Part 107 certificate, although this doesn't replace that certificate. If you already hold a 107, expect to breeze through the TRUST process, as the questions are basically simplified versions of the most fundamental concepts behind the 107 test. In fact, if you find that you enjoyed learning about these topics, consider checking out a course that covers the 107 certification. If you ever want to fly for commercial purposes, it's essential to have, and I feel that the topics it covers are not only interesting, but also helpful to understand as a drone pilot (at least most of them).

To recap, the FAA lists the current requirements for flying a drone recreationally as: 

  1. If your drone weighs more than .55 lbs, register your drone through the FAA's DroneZone
  2. Pass TRUST
  3. Follow safety guidelines on the FAA website or of an existing aeromodelling organization

For the TRUST certification, the FAA lists the approved providers on their website, although I particularly liked the ease of use of the test offered by the Boy Scouts of America, which didn't require setting up a login or present any other obstacle to just completing the test. If you already have a login setup with one of the listed drone education providers, you can consider just going with them instead.

Drone owners and pilots might sigh anytime they hear about new regulations being proposed, but fortunately, this seems like a pretty well implemented and reasonable requirement. Between it being free, easy to comply with, and non-expiring, there's really no reason to put it off; if you've got 10 minutes free, and own a drone, get it done!

Alex Coleman's picture

Alex Coleman is a travel and landscape photographer. He teaches workshops in the American Southwest, with an emphasis on blending the artistic and technical sides of photography.

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Def, it's super easy. Took 5min.

Thank you Alex as I was just talking about this with a beginner drone operator

Thanks you. Just completed the Trust cert.