Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission of product sales to keep this website going.
We’ve all known it’s been coming for years…we were warned…and now it’s finally here. The mandatory recreational drone pilot test.
So even if you’re not making money with your drone – all you want to do is fly for fun – you need a certification. Here’s some information about the TRUST certificate.
And before you get in a tizzy about being over-regulated and overburdened, let me just open by saying that this “test” is extremely easy, free, short, and you’ll pass with a 100%.
What is TRUST?
The government loves acronyms and will do whatever they can to come up with something catchy. TRUST stands for The Recreational UAS Safety Test. How much did they pay the guy (or gal) who came up with that?
With so many recent instances of reckless drone pilots buzzing commercial airliners, grounding firefighting aircraft, crashing at busy airports, and so on, it’s really no surprise that this was inevitable. Safety is important.
This recreational drone test was announced in 2018 as part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill and is now in effect as of June 2021.
I’ve been flying manned aircraft for over 20 years. I can’t even begin to describe all of the testing and training I had to do for my various certifications. It took years. For recreational drone pilots to fly in the same airspace, spending a half-hour to click through some slides seems like a piece of cake.
It’s really just for the FAA to have a way of acknowledging that you know the rules you were already supposed to know. Ignorance of the rules is no longer an excuse to fly up to 1,000 feet above the ground. With a TRUST certificate, the FAA knows that you know you can only go up to 400 feet. You should also know that you need to keep your drone within visual range, need authorization to fly in controlled airspace, and need to stay away from manned aircraft.
About the recreational drone pilot test – TRUST
Really, this is easy.
- It’s free (if anyone is asking you for money it’s a scam).
- It only takes about 30 minutes.
- The information presented and the questions asked are at the most basic level.
- If you get a question wrong, you will keep answering until you get it correct (correctable to 100%).
- The certificate never expires (you only need to do it once in your life).
You’ll basically be presented with some short, easy-to-digest information. Then they’ll ask you a couple of questions about what you just saw. Then you’ll go on to another piece of information and answer a few more questions about that. And so on. It’s super-simple. The format may vary slightly from one test administrator to the next, but the information is the same. You’ll print out the certificate when you’re complete.
You do need to keep the certificate with you when you’re flying. Just throw it in your drone case or bag. You’ll need to be able to present it to law enforcement or the FAA upon request.
Don’t lose it either, because you won’t be able to go to the FAA or the Test Administrator for a re-print since they don’t keep your personal information.
Do you need to complete TRUST?
You do not need to get a TRUST certificate if you have a current Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (if it has lapsed you can renew it online for free). The Part 107 test that you took is far more in-depth than TRUST, so you’ve already proven you know the rules.
If you fly recreationally, just for fun – and don’t have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate – you will need to get the TRUST certificate before the next time you go out flying.
And don’t forget to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. That’s the other requirement to fly recreationally. You will also need this paper registration certificate with your TRUST certificate.
I suppose you could just say, “I’m not doing this, no one is going to tell me what to do, I’ll fly when and where I want.” Those people are out there because they know the chances of getting caught are slim. And they’re the ones responsible for these extra rules. So let’s just all be on the same team and fly responsibly so we can avoid further burdens. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the cause of a major crash and loss of life because I didn’t understand basic airspace safety.
What’s the difference between TRUST and a Part 107 license?
Should you get a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate or a TRUST Certificate?
I’d recommend just taking the Part 107 test if you ever plan on flying for anything other than just plain fun or personal enjoyment. If you’re flying “as a favor” for anyone, especially if you’re being compensated with cash, exchanges, etc., you’ll need a Part 107 certificate.
Did a friend ask you to look at damage to their roof? That’s not considered “recreational” by the FAA’s definition and thus falls under Part 107.
The FAA has been cracking down on this recently, penalizing YouTubers who are collecting advertising revenue on videos containing aerial footage, if they don’t have a Part 107 certificate.
So you may want to look into this just to be on the safe side. There are plenty of places to prepare for the Part 107 test online; my Remote Pilot Test Prep Course has a 100% pass rate with an average test score in the low 90s.
But if you truly are just flying for the pure enjoyment of it, keeping the photos and video to yourself, all you’ll need to do is TRUST.
Where can you take the TRUST certification?
The FAA itself does not offer the recreational drone pilot test. They do have a network of approved test administrators who host the training platforms. Some of these TRUST providers include:
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (my alma mater)
- The Boy Scouts of America
- The Academy of Model Aeronautics
- and more, you can find the current list here
Again, none of these should be asking you for money for this TRUST certificate.
Do I offer the TRUST certification?
Despite the success of my Part 107 Test Prep program, I currently have no plans to become a TRUST Test Administrator.
The only reason being is that the FAA requires special servers and software to communicate with their computers. This upgrade would be too costly for me, and since I can’t charge for the certification, it’s just not in my small business budget right now.
Now go get that certificate!
Before you go fly next, find just a mere 30 minutes and take that recreational drone pilot test. I don’t even know if you can call it a “test.”
Whatever it is, you’ll need that TRUST certificate to fly recreationally. You may even pick up some new information along the way.
The FAA has not indicated when they’ll start enforcing this, but it’d be a good idea to just get it out of the way before you forget.