The FAA will open up to flying civilian drones in 2015. Should we get pilot licenses to be ready for this? if so, is there a difference between plane or helicopter pilot license?

Links related:
NASA Helps Draw Up Rules for Flying Drones in the U.S
FAA making plans for drone flights in U.S.
U.S. colleges begin offering more drone piloting programs to keep up with domestic drone boom
California bills tackle drones, personal privacy
Aviation schools prepare for boom in demand for drone pilots

  • 3
    I haven't seen anything referencing what would be required, but I suspect no existing license will make any difference unless you intend to fly under that license as well. – mah Dec 19 '13 at 0:38
  • 1
    Related: robotics.stackexchange.com/q/1339/417 – asheeshr Jan 3 '14 at 2:29
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, I have two answers for you - one personal, and one practical:

Personally, as a pilot (and very occasional airline passenger) I think anyone operating a drone should be required to get a pilot's license of some kind. Maybe I'm just grumpy, but I spent a lot of time cramming the skills and knowledge into my brain that are required to safely operate in the US National Airspace System. It can get pretty complicated and crowded up there, and I think we need the operators of unmanned aircraft to have a thorough understanding of that.
The last thing anyone wants is a UAV smacking into a plane because it wandered somewhere it shouldn't be

PRACTICALLY though, it remains to be seen what regulations the FAA will impose for unmanned civil aircraft - they may require a pilot's certificate (speculating: In the category and class equivalent to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle you'll be operating), or they may require a "remote operator's certificate" of some kind (perhaps with special emphasis on remote-operation-specific issues like command uplink delay), or they may not impose a requirement at all and treat them like model aircraft until the first accident involving one of these things causes a public outcry.
Like egid said, until the FAA issues a NPRM telling us what they're thinking of doing here we really won't know - your guesses are as good as ours right now.

I would suggest at least an Private Pilot Ground School course while you're gearing up though -- and I would suggest it even if the FAA decides no license is requried for being a UAV operator. The airspace, chart reading, flight planning, and ATC portions of the course are something you'll probably want to be familiar with (and are broadly applicable across all kinds of aviation), and a good ground school course usually isn't that expensive.
(As to whether you take the knowledge test at the end of the course, that's up to you -- the results are good for 2 years in case you decide to pursue a pilot certificate, but the test you have to take as a UAV operator may wind up being different from the one you'd have to take as a private pilot, or may not exist at all, so you might just be setting yourself up for having to take two tests. Again, at this stage your guess would be as good as mine here.)

  • On the bright side, drone's can't fly in the complicated airspace that you are referring to so it isn't an issue.... Yet.... – Lnafziger Feb 7 '14 at 3:15

From the second link you posted:

Until regulations establish who can fly a drone and where, Huerta said, the FAA will license drone operators on a case-by-case basis.

It's doubtful that getting an airplane or helicopter pilot certificate will aid legally with the transition. It could obviously help with the concepts, but until the FAA releases an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making), the best we can do is guess.

  • So I wonder if all the attention towards flight schools is just a marketing move to increase attendance. I am still curious what training would be helpful though. – JGallardo Dec 21 '13 at 0:55
  • I haven't seen any of this, but then, I'm not actively shopping around flight schools. :) – egid Dec 21 '13 at 1:04

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.