The most common answer to the question of who needs a Part 107 certificate is that you only need a Part 107 license if you're flying a drone commercially.
That's basically true in a practical sense, but it's not the way the law is written.
14 CFR § 107.12(a) actually requires that anyone manipulating the controls of an sUAS must possess a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a certificated pilot who can immediately take over the controls. The law itself does not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial operations.
Fortunately, as of the time of this writing, it's actually pretty easy to become 107-certified. You basically have to pass a written test, which is pretty easy if you take a good Part 107 training course. You're not required to take a course, however. You can learn about other ways to study for your Part 107 test here.
Congress also has established a recreational exception for sUAS operators. The full text can found at 49 U.S.C. § 44809. There's actually a lot more to it than most people realize. For example, in addition to the flight being for purely recreational purposes, you have to pass a knowledge test, and you have to be operating "in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization's set of safety guidelines."
The training requirement can be satisfied by earning a TRUST Certificate. You also need to familiarize yourself with a "community-based organization's" safety guidelines and be able to identify which organization's guidelines you're operating under if asked by a law enforcement officer or a representative of the FAA.
Most importantly, however, you must be flying strictly for recreational purposes. This is where drone pilots most frequently get in trouble with the FAA, who consider any type of compensation at all to take you out of the realm of recreational flight and into that of commercial operations. Let's take a look at some of the things that the FAA considers "compensation."
The nutshell answer would be that if you receive anything of value, whether tangible or not, from flying drones, then it is compensation and requires that you possess a Part 107 Certificate. Here are some examples of compensation.
In short, if you benefit from flying a drone in any way other than the sheer joy of it, chances are that the FAA considers it compensation and will want you to earn a Part 107 Certificate.
In recent years, the FAA has been trying the voice of reason before bringing down the hammer of justice down on drone pilots who simply didn't know their flying fell under the Administration's definitions of "compensation." In cases where not having a Part 107 ticket is the whole offense, the FAA almost certainly will begin by "counseling" the violator to get his or her Part 107.
Let me tell you something about FAA "counseling," namely, that you should consider it an order. When the FAA "counsels" you to do something, it means they're trying to save you and the taxpayers the time, trouble, and cost of a legal proceeding by telling you what they want you to do. If you're polite, respectful, and compliant, chances are very good that things will go well for you. You'll earn your Part 107, fly within the rules, and life will go on.
If, on the other hand, you cop an attitude and don't comply with the FAA's "counsel," then you may wind up like this guy, who was fined $182,000 for repeatedly ignoring the FAA's counsel that he earn a Part 107 certificate, as well as follow the rules when flying. The FAA may start with the voice of reason, but they will pull that heavy hammer of justice out of its holster if you don't listen.
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