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May 8, 2020 | FAA, News

FAA provides relief for qualified remote pilots during the COVID-19 outbreak

On March 13th, almost a month-and-a-half after the Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the President declared a national emergency. Since then, cases have been reported in all 50 states and 14+ territories. As a result of ?30 Days to Slow the Spread,” which was declared on March 31st to mandate social distancing, most testing centers administering airmen knowledge tests have closed. The FAA is offering the opportunity to renew Part 107 certification online, as a result.

Closed testing centers currently present a dilemma for people looking to visit a federal testing center to renew their Part 107 certification. “Even if open, some knowledge testing centers may introduce airmen to risks of exposure to COVID-19. The inability of part 107 operators to remain current could have a negative impact on a community’s ability to support the safe inspection of infrastructure, including power lines, fire and rescue, flood responses, law enforcement, and overall public safety,” the FAA states on page 28 of their 94-page COVID relief document.

When acquiring a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, the passing results of your Aeronautical Knowledge Recency Test (AKRT) are valid for 24 calendar months. Right now this means that remote pilots who first passed their AKRT and received their Part 107 certification during March, 2018, are not current. Certification doesn”T go away, but remote pilots who haven”T passed their renewal exam cannot legally fly under Part 107. Operating recreationally under Part 101 is still fine, obviously.

Letters from various organizations that advocate for aviation, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (better known as AOPA), recently started making their way to the FAA. They warned of the negative impact on commercial pilots should their qualifications lapse ? especially since drones are providing vital services during this pandemic. The FAA responded by creating a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that is expected to be filed for public inspection at the office of the Federal Register in the next few days.

This relief program applies to individuals who are certificated as a remote pilot under part 107 and whose recency of knowledge lapses between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020, according to the SFAR FAQ. Keep in mind, this is a 6-month extension for qualifying pilots. If online training per the SFAR is completed by a pilot on May 7, 2020, for example, they will need to establish recency of knowledge by complying with ?107.65 as written before November 1st.

To get started, you”Ll need to register with From there, you”Ll find course content, downloadable reference materials, and, of course, the knowledge exam.