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Frequently asked questions

What Is Your Cancellation/Refund Policy?

Your registration will not be confirmed until payment is received. To cancel your registration prior to 24 hours before the class starts for a full refund, please call 702-479-2989. No-shows and cancellations not made prior to 24 hours before the class starts will incur the full cost of registration, however a future class may be attended at no additional cost. If the class is cancelled, you have the option of applying your fee to a future class or receiving a full refund.

How Is This Course Different Than Other Advertised Online Courses?

Our 18-hour Intro to sUAS course is a comprehensive, specialized course that covers far more than those offered online. In addition to teaching the best safety practices and piloting skills, we cover the types of flight systems available, their capabilities, and which one would be best for your use; we discuss how drones can be used in business and industry applications, and how to apply drone technology to bring efficiencies to business; and we teach drone photography and videography skills. You will also learn the FAA requirements in-depth, how to prepare for the exam, and gain the knowledge needed to successfully pass the certification exam.

Other Courses Online That Say They’re FAA Certified. Why Isn’t This Course?

No coursework is FAA Certified. FAA certification comes only after passing the FAA’s remote pilot knowledge test, which is only available at qualified FAA Knowledge Testing Centers. Many other courses offer brief overviews on safety practices and basic applications, and piloting is taught with GPS which masks true flying skills. Our 18-hour Intro to sUAS course is designed to provide comprehensive instruction on drone systems, use applications, legal issues, maintenance, and FAA regulations, in addition to piloting skills and the best safety practices.

Will This Course Prepare Me For FAA Remote Pilot Certification?

Yes. In addition to all the vital skills and information you need to start piloting drones safely and legally, this course is designed to give you the instruction you need to prepare for and successfully pass the FAA remote pilot knowledge test. The test itself, administered at an authorized FAA Knowledge Testing Center, will be a written exam with no piloting demonstration required.

Can Two People Share A Drone Given Out In The Course And Reduce The Fee They Pay?

No. Each student needs his or her own system, which we provide. There will be skills homework assignments and in-class activities that require each student to practice with and operate their own system.

Will We Be Flying Outdoors For The Course?

No. We teach indoors because it’s the best environment to learn how to pilot without the added challenges of the elements like wind, precipitation, trees, etc.

How Will This Course Prepare Me To Work In This New Drone Field?

We’ve intentionally designed this course to meet the comprehensive needs of someone who wants to use a drone commercially. In it, students not only learn to fly, but we cover the types of flight systems available on the market, what applications and industries they are best suited for, and the business models that can be created using drones. The course provides thorough pilot training, including important safety and legal best practices, and has an intensive FAA test prep portion which imparts the advanced awareness needed to prepare for and pass the FAA’s remote pilot knowledge test. These skills, test prep, and industry insights are all that stand between you gaining your certification to take advantage of the emerging drone-enabled opportunities.

Do I Need To Purchase My Own sUAS For The Course?

No. In fact, we encourage you not to buy a system until you’ve taken the Intro to sUAS course. During the course, you’ll learn about the various systems available and understand which one is best suited for your needs. The course fee includes a “training” quadcopter, the Syma X5C, purposely selected for its extreme durability (survives crashes well, perfect for indoor instruction) and manual controls (as learning to fly without GPS assistance results in better piloting skills).

Will I Be Able To Fly A Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) At The End Of This Course?

Yes, the Intro to sUAS course not only covers learning to fly, but also the concepts and benefits of multiple types of flight systems, including multirotors and fixed-wing as well as autonomous flight systems.

What Types Of Unmanned Aircraft Will The Course Focus On?

The course will focus on small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). These are defined by the FAA as weighing less than 55 lbs.

Who Is Giving The Training?

The instruction is being provided by SkyOp, the leading sUAS courseware developer and training company in the country.

What should I do if I have a question about UAS Operations at an Airport?

Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations on an Airport for more information.

What is the B4UFLY APP?

The B4UFLY APP is an easy-to-use smartphone app developed by the FAA that helps unmanned aircraft operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly. Key features of the B4UFLY app include:

•A clear “status” indicator that immediately informs the operator about their current or planned location. For example, it shows flying in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, DC is prohibited.

•Information on the parameters that drive the status indicator.

•A “Planner Mode” for future flights in different locations.
•Informative, interactive maps with filtering options.

•Links to other FAA UAS resources and regulatory information.

The B4UFLY APP is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The B4UFLY APP will also be available via the Google Play Store, after Beta testing for the Android system is completed.

What is the Know Before You Fly Campaign?

This is an educational campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the FAA to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of UAS, including model aircraft. Read more about the Know Before You Fly Campaign.

Which governs the airspace over my property – FAA regulations or local/state laws about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)?

Under 49 United States Code 40103, the United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States and the FAA has the authority to prescribe air traffic regulations on the flight of aircraft, including UAS. Whether Federal law preempts state or local requirements for UAS depends on the precise nature of those requirements. The Department of Transportation evaluates these laws or requirements on a case-by-case basis to make sure they don’t conflict with FAA’s authority to provide safe and efficient use of U.S. airspace.

Can news media fly a UAS to shoot stories or cover breaking news?

News media use of a UAS is not for hobby or recreational purposes, so FAA authorization is necessary. Media organizations may hire a company that already has a Section 333 exemption; that company would have to apply for and obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to fly in a particular block of airspace. Media organizations also may apply for their own Section 333 exemptions. See

What do you think the FAA will have to do to address the UAS industry changes and growth?

The UAS industry has grown largely as a result of supporting the defense organizations and this is reflected in the type of systems that have been developed. However, operations in civil airspace have different priorities. Civil performance standards are often more stringent, especially in the areas of reliability. Public expectation for a safe aviation environment drives our very high standards.

Is the FAA considering a special type of airspace for UAS?

Currently there are no actions being taken to establish a “special UAS airspace”. This “special UAS airspace” would be counter to the idea of integrating unmanned aircraft into the NAS because it would be segregating, not integrating.

Why do commercial operations require a different process? What are the obstacles to standards, certification, and operating procedures?

All operations conducted in civil airspace must meet minimum levels of safety. Public UAS operators have the ability to self-certify their equipment and personnel, but civil operators are certified by the FAA. We believe civil operators will benefit from the collaboration between the FAA and the public operators. Presently, the FAA is drafting a rule to address small UAS (less than 55 lbs.). Until that rule is promulgated, anyone wishing to operate a UAS for purposes other than hobby/recreational must obtain a grant of exemption issued under Section 333 or type and airworthiness certificate.

What is a civil UAS operation?

A civil UAS operation is any UAS activity that does not meet the criteria for public UAS operations or model aircraft operations. A civil UAS operation is authorized in two ways:

1. A grant of exemption issued by the FAA in accordance with Section 333 of public Law 12-95 and a civil COA issued by the FAA or

2. A Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Experimental or Restricted Category.

Civil operators authorized via Section 333 grants of exemption are automatically issued a “blanket COA” to conduct civil UAS operations nationwide. The blanket COA authorizes flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay the following distances away from airports or heliports:

•5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or

•3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or

•2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or

•2 NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.

A UAS operator that wants to operate from an airport or within the distances from the airport stated above for the “blanket COA”, must apply for and obtain a separate COA specific to the proposed flight on or near an airport. These are sometimes referred to as a “full COA”. This type of COA will provide specific details and parameters of the permitted operation. Please note that the documentation for the “blanket COA” and the “full COA” may initially appear to be very similar and the FAA recommends obtaining the entire COA documentation from the UAS operator for review.

Please note that any UAS activity strictly for recreational or hobby purposes is considered a Model Aircraft operation and the Model Aircraft must be operated in accordance with Section 336 of Public Law 112-95. Read more about Model Aircraft operations near an airport.

How long does the process take to obtain a public COA?

From our experience, depending on the system and operational complexity, the process may take from 60 to 90 days.

If I want to operate a public UAS, how do I obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA)?

The UAS COA process is managed in Washington, DC, FAA Headquarters in the UAS Group (AJV-13). Contact AJV-13 via email for assistance. The process includes opening a COA website account, which has an application that can be populated on-line. Public aircraft are tied to government agencies, therefore credentials must be provided. 6

What is a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA)?

A COA is an authorization issued by the FAA to grant NAS access for a specific UAS activity. COAs contain requirements the holder must follow. The FAA issues COAs for both public UAS operations and civil UAS operations.

What is a public UAS operation?

Federal law defines a UAS as an aircraft, and, as such, public agencies and organizations are permitted access to operate in the U.S. airspace system. Federal law allows government entities to perform certain governmental functions in the NAS as “public aircraft” operations. While public aircraft operations generally must follow airspace rules, they are not subject to the same requirements as civil aircraft operations. Public UAS operations fall within the existing statutory definitions of public aircraft as outlined in Advisory Circular 00-1.1A.
A public UAS operation must be conducted under the authority of a COA issued by the FAA. A COA for a public UAS operation permits public agencies and organizations to operate a particular aircraft, for a particular purpose, in a particular area. The COA allows an operator to use a defined block of airspace and includes special safety provisions unique to the proposed operation.
Read more about public UAS operations.

Is an FAA-issued pilot certificate required to operate a civil UAS under an experimental airworthiness certificate or a grant of exemption under Section 333?

If the aircraft is issued an airworthiness certificate, a pilot certificate is required. 5

Pilot certification requirements for petitions for exemption under Section 333 are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. While Section 333 grants the Secretary of Transportation flexibility with regard to airworthiness certification requirements, it does not grant the Secretary any flexibility with regard to airman certification standards as outlined in Sections 44703 and 44711 of Title 49 of the United States Code (49 USC). An FAA airman certificate is required to operate an aircraft in the National Airspace System.

How long does the Section 333 process take?

The standard period for evaluating petitions for exemptions is 120 days.

What is a Section 333 Exemption?

Section 333 of Public Law 112-95 grants the Secretary of Transportation authority to allow certain UAS to operate in the NAS prior to the completion of the small UAS rule. Essentially, the grant of exemption permits the Secretary of Transportation to determine whether certain UAS may operate in the NAS without the UAS meeting all regulatory and statutory requirements for manned aircraft, such as aircraft certification. The FAA issues an exemption to facilitate this decision-making process and to provide relief from current FAA rules where appropriate until final rulemaking is completed.

Specifically, Section 333 allows the Secretary to determine which types of UAS, as a result of their size, weight, speed, operational capability, proximity to airports and populated areas, and operation within visual line-of-sight, do not pose a hazard to NAS users or to national security, and whether an airworthiness certificate or COA is required for operation.

A Section 333 grant of exemption is required for any civil UAS operation that is not for hobby or recreational purposes. Though not as common, access to the NAS for civil UAS can also be granted through a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Experimental or Restricted Category, as described in Question 5. A COA is not required when granted a Special Airworthiness Certificate.

Under the Section 333 exemption the civil UAS operator may not operate within 5 nautical miles of an airport reference point (ARP) as denoted in the current FAA Airport/Facility Directory (AFD) or for airports not denoted with an ARP, the center of the airport symbol as denoted on the current FAA-published aeronautical chart, unless a letter of agreement with that airport’s management is obtained or otherwise permitted by a COA issued to the exemption holder. The letter of agreement with the airport management must be made available to FAA officials or any law enforcement official upon request.

How long does the experimental airworthiness certification process take?

From our experience, depending on the complexity, this process can take from two months to one year.

How do I obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate?

The Aircraft Certification Service, AIR-113 at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C. holds this responsibility and can be reached via email or telephone at 202-267-1575. All questions regarding the process and procedures required to obtain an experimental certificate will be answered by AIR-113. 1,3,5

I want to fly a UAS for business purposes…do I need approval from the FAA?

Yes. There are presently three methods of gaining FAA approval for flying civil (non-governmental) UAS:
1.Special Airworthiness Certificates – Experimental Category (SAC-EC) for civil aircraft to perform research and development, crew training, and market surveys. However, carrying persons or property for compensation or hire is prohibited. For more information, please contact the Airworthiness Certification Service, AIR-113, at 202-267-1575. 1,3

2.Obtain a UAS type and airworthiness certificate in the Restricted Category (14 CFR § 21.25(a)(2) and § 21.185) for a special purpose or a type certificate for production of the UAS under 14 CFR § 21.25(a)(1) or § 21.17. 7,8

3.Petition for Exemption with a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for civil aircraft to perform commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. For more information, please visit our Section 333 page. Instructions for petitioning for exemption are available here.

Public (governmental) UAS operations must go through the Public COA process. More information is available here.


FDC 9/5151, issued under 14 CFR 99.7 on “Special Security Instructions,” restricts flight over stadiums during Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL) regular season, NCAA football, and motor speedway events. The so-called “stadium TFR” prohibits all aircraft and parachute operations at or below 3,000 AGL within a 3 nm radius of any stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people when there is an MLB game, regular or post-season NFL game, NCAA Division I football game, or major motor speedway event occurring. This TFR applies to the entire US domestic national airspace system, and takes effect from one hour before the scheduled event time until one hour after the event concludes.

Air Shows and Sporting Events

For aircraft operations in the vicinity of aerial demonstrations and major sporting events, 14 CFR 91.145 gives the FAA authority to establish Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) to protect persons or property on the ground or in the air, to maintain air safety and efficiency, or to prevent the unsafe congestion of aircraft in the vicinity of an aerial demonstration or sporting event. In practice, TFRs issued under 14 CFR 91.145 are issued primarily for air shows. The FAA determines when a 14 CFR 91.145 TFR should be issued for a sporting event on a case-by-case basis.

Can I fly a model aircraft or UAS over a stadium or at airshows or sporting events for hobby or recreation?

No. FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas.

Do I need approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation or hobby?

No, but your aircraft must be registered if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs. FAA guidance also says that model aircraft should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, should be kept within visual line of sight of the operator, should weigh under 55 lbs. unless certified by an aero-modeling community-based organization, and cannot be used for business purposes.

Register your model aircraft / remote-controlled (RC) aircraft

Are model aircraft registered with the FAA?

A model aircraft owner must register with the FAA if they intend to fly a model aircraft outdoors and the model aircraft weighs more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds. Read more about UAS registration.

What is the definition of recreational or hobby use of a model aircraft?

Recreational or hobby use is typically understood as the model aircraft being flown for personal interest and enjoyment and not for business purposes or compensation or hire. Please refer to the FAA’s interpretation of recreational or hobby use in FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

What is a model aircraft?

A model aircraft is an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and flown only for hobby or recreational purposes.

This includes a wide range of aircraft including, but not limited to, traditional radio controlled fixed wing aircraft and radio controlled helicopters. Model aircraft can include small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) aircraft, such as “quadcopters,” flown for recreational or hobby purposes.

Model aircraft are defined by the purpose of flight rather than the particular configuration of the aircraft. Essential to the model aircraft operation is that the aircraft is operated for recreational or hobby purposes and the flight follows the requirements of Section 336 of Public Law 112-95.

What is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)?

A UAS is the unmanned aircraft (UA) and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.

The UA is the flying portion of the system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links and any additional equipment that is necessary for the UA to operate safely. The FAA issues an experimental airworthiness certificate for the entire system, not just the flying portion of the system.