If you are planning to transition from a recreational to a professional drone operator under Part 107, here are some things you can do to get ahead of the game.

Fly Everyday-

When the 107 rules come out next month, the market will be flooded with new, licensed operators but very few of them will have the flying skills to compete professionally and earn a healthy salary. It’s a sad fact but most aspiring commercial operators won’t fly enough practice to stay sharp. Work on orientation exercises, make an obstacle course with gates, practice flying the course with a large fan for crosswinds, get off the GPS and fly in Atti mode! Remember, “practice makes perfect” is not enough, “perfect and deliberate practice” gives you the competitive edge to succeed. Log 50 hours before even thinking about being serious.

Take a Drone University USA Commercial Small UAV Course and Graduate-

Insurance companies, employer’s and client’s will recognize and consider courses taught by professional institutions with a proven curriculum and track record. Drone University USA provides weekend-long commercial UAV operator training courses which are recognized industry wide. We teach you all the 107 knowledge to pass the FAA licensing exam plus the proper flight skills to be a professional.

Gather Flight Records and Log Them in Detail-

The FAA places great weight on logged flight time. Drone operators should keep written logs of time spent using the drone, and not just rely on the drone’s built-in record-keeping abilities. Back up your log files from the drone or flight application. Get the Drone University USA pilot logbook and complete a entry for every individual flying session, from power-up to power-down. Use the notes section on each line to describe the location and any outstanding details about the flight, such as its purpose. Insurance companies will be much happier to insure a pilot who has detailed flight logs than they will a pilot who can’t give a good answer to the question, “How much time have you spent flying?” Don’t forget to log simulator time as well.

Begin Developing a Set of Standard Operating Procedures-

Eventually, businesses need a standardized set of documents which employees can reference to see if they are doing things right. Make notes of best business practices with customers, and pay attention to digital property rights and exchange of information. Make as much reference as possible to the Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual, another must-have for people desiring to fly commercially in the United States National Air Space. Some clients and insurance companies will only be concerned about whether you have a clear set of emergency response procedures in place, so spend extra time on those, again making reference to the NTSB standards found in the FAR/AIM. In the future, you will probably need a lawyer to go over your documents, but it never hurts to start developing ideas.

Under Part 107, commercial drone operators would be required to:

• Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at one of 696 FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States (this list last updated December 2015).
• Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
• Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
• Be at least 17 years old.
• Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
• Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
• Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.

You can forget the 5-7 month waiting period for a Section 333 Exemption and needing a manned aircraft pilot license. This new drone certification process will be much more streamlined and a step in the right direction for the FAA and the drone industry in the United States.

Part 107 is going to change the game for many UAV operators, and we at Drone University USA are looking forward to the new freedoms coming with it. We want to encourage UAV operators not just to become profitable in what used to be their hobby, but to build a culture of safety and cooperation around drone operations.