What Happens If I Fail The Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

Exams and tests are always a stressful time no matter your age, and sometimes that anxiety can get the better of us.

What Happens If I Fail The Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

With all that pressure and stress, a lot of us sometimes stop and think about the worst case scenario – failing a test. What will happen? 

With pilots, the fear is no different and when it comes to the many tests and exams you have to take in order to qualify as a pilot, it is natural to worry about what happens if they don’t pass. 

Here, we are going to take a look at the Aeronautical Knowledge test and what happens if you fail the test. If your

Aeronautical Knowledge test is on the horizon and your revision is not going to plan, then find out here what you can do if you fail your test. 

What Is The Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

The Aeronautical Knowledge test is one of the many tests you need to pass in order to become a drone pilot.

Everyone who flies a recreational plane must pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test in order to prove that they are capable of flying a plane safely.

The Aeronautical Knowledge test is a requirement put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration so there is no getting around this – if you want to fly drones commercially, then you need to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge test to get your Remote Pilot Certificate (also known as the drone pilot license). 

The test is in-person, lasts around two hours and is handwritten so you have to travel to your nearest FAA approved test center in order to sit the test.

Once you pass, you will receive your Remote Pilot Certificate and be permitted to legally fly drones commercially.

The only way to bypass this exam is to have an already existing Part 61 pilot certificate, you still would need to complete an online course. 

The point of the Aeronautical Knowledge Test is to ensure that everyone who flies a plane understands how to do so safely.

This can prevent serious risks and deaths caused by planes so you can see why the FAA have put such an important test in place. 

Unfortunately, the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test is not free and individuals have to pay around $150 (the cost can increase or decrease depending on the test center you are due to sit your test at).

However, some academies do offer to cover the cost for you. 

What Happens If I Fail The FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

Like we said earlier, tests and exams can be seriously stressful and sometimes, your nerves can get the better of you.

If you do fail your Aeronautical Knowledge Test, then you won’t be given your Remote Pilot Certificate. 

It’s very understandable to see why – failing the test proves to the FAA that you do not know how to keep airspace safe while flying a drone, so they cannot allow you to fly in case you are a danger to life.

So, even though it is very disappointing to fail, it’s for a good reason – if you were to fly, you could cause some serious damage to others and yourself. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you will never be able to become a pilot. 

You are permitted to retake the Aeronautical Knowledge Test but there is one restriction.

You must wait at least fourteen calendar days from the date that you last failed your Aeronautical Knowledge Test to resit it again. 

This gives you enough time to relax, refresh your mind and start revising again. You don’t have to take it in two weeks time so you can wait three, four weeks or even months before you feel ready to take it again.

However, you must wait a minimum of fourteen days before you can be permitted to retake the test. 

You also don’t need authorization from an instructor or teacher to be able to retest. Just sign up for the test again and you won’t need any form or endorsement or authorization.

You will, however, need to pay another fee to take the test again. 

What Happens When I Pass The FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

What Happens If I Fail The Aeronautical Knowledge Test?

First – give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself! This is no easy feat so well done to you! 

However, there are still a few things you have to do before you can take to the skies. 

Once you have passed the Aeronautical Knowledge test, you can apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate after 48 hours.

Send in your application using the FAA’s online Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (or IACRA for short) system.

Your application will be vetted by the TSA and then you will receive a Remote Pilot Certificate that is electronic and temporary until your official one arrives in the mail.

Do I Have To Retake The Aeronautical Knowledge Test To Renew My License?

Once you have passed the Aeronautical Knowledge Test for the first time and you get your Remote Pilot Certificate, you will have to renew it every two years. 

However, you won’t be required to resit the Aeronautical Knowledge Test again.

Instead, in order to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate, you have to take a very simple online refresher course so all the information you learned previously for the Aeronautical Knowledge Test doesn’t get too rusty. 

This is a new change to the process that has been in effect since 2021. Before that, the FAA did require pilots to retake a new test to renew their Remote Pilot Certificate at the same location as where they took their first test – which was super annoying if you ever wanted to move! 

However, in December 2020, the FAA announced that they were swapping out the full written renewal test for an online refresher course instead.

Once complete, you will receive a completion certificate to prove that you have done the training and can renew your license. 

Do I Need To Pass A Medical Exam Too?

No, you do not need to pass a medical exam as well to commercially fly a drone. At least, not under Part 107 – all you need is to pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test. 

If you wish to fly other kinds of aircraft, then a medical exam will be required. However, to fly commercial drones, it is up to the pilot if they feel mentally as well as as physically fit to fly a plane.

This does put a lot of responsibility on your shoulders so take good care of yourself and trust others then they recommend that you do not look to be in the right state to fly. 


So, if you fail your Aeronautical Knowledge test, then your dreams of becoming a pilot are not over yet – you just need to retake the test.

You will have to wait two weeks but eventually, you can retake the test again (and again if need be) until you finally get your hands on that Remote Pilot Certificate. 

The only downside to this is that you are required to pay that $150 fee each time you retake the test so try and pass as soon as possible to save you more cash. 

Use those two weeks wisely to rest and revise and before you know it, you will be able to take to the skies as an officially licensed drone pilot! 

Jacob Stern
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