New FAA Rules Require Certification For All Drone Pilots

Aug. 27, 2021

Whether you are flying a drone for recreation, education or business purposes, the FAA now requires certification through one of several options. 

Option 1: Part 107 License

The preferred certification for all flying, including for educational and research purposes, is a Part 107 remote operator license.  Part 107 allows for more flexibility in where drones can be flown, and when. Part 107 pilots can fly at night and over people or moving vehicles without a waiver under the Operations Over People rule. It also gives faculty and graduate students the ability to allow students to fly drones under their supervision.

Flights for business purposes, such as professional filming, photography, and building inspections, require a Part 107 remote operator license. This includes any flights conducted for University business, including Advancement, capital projects and Communications. No Princeton employee or student may conduct a flight for University business without either having a Part 107 license or being under the direct supervision of a Part 107 license holder (a "pilot in command"). 

Option 2: The TRUST Program

For students engaged in coursework or a senior project, a recreational/educational authorization is sufficient. This requires passing The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) aeronautical knowledge and safety test, which allows for drone operation in more limited circumstances. 

Option 3: Part 61 License Holders

Existing part 61 pilot certificate holders (those holding a pilot's license for manned aircraft) can complete a specialized training course to become Part 107 certified. More information is on the FAA's become a drone pilot page. 

In Sum...

No flights will be approved at Princeton University for research or coursework unless the operator has either Part 107 certification or has passed the knowledge test through the TRUST program. All flights for business purposes require a Part 107 License.

Learn more about getting certified as a Part 107 or TRUST pilot on our Policies and Procedures page.