On August 15th, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) posted a Request for Information (“RFI”) seeking responses from third party entities to administer a new aeronautical knowledge and safety test for recreational drone operators. The RFI marks the beginning of FAA’s implementation of Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which requires FAA to develop an electronic test to be administered by FAA, community-based organizations, or by FAA designees. Anyone who wishes to fly a drone recreationally will need to pass the test and retain proof of passage.
According to the RFI, FAA will develop testing and training content, which will cover the safety and operational rules for recreational drones. Third party designees will be responsible for administering the test on an electronic, web-based platform. Designees may also be responsible for maintaining test data on behalf of the FAA, including personally identifiable information (“PII”) for adults and minor children, and for issuing certificates showing proof of passage. The FAA is open to responses from all industry stakeholders, but interested companies should ensure that they can demonstrate an ability to store data in accordance with a number of Federal privacy regulations, including the Federal Records Act, the Privacy Act of 1972, and the E-Government Act. The best-positioned respondents will likely have experience with Shareable Content Object Reference Model (“SCORM”) compliant Learning Management Systems (“LMS”), developing mobile platforms, and administering standardized tests.
After evaluating the responses in accordance with the RFI, FAA may initially invite certain companies to participate in further discussions, some of which may ultimately be selected as designees. Each designee will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”)—a type of Other Transaction Agreement—with the FAA. These types of vehicles are generally not subject to protest. Although the FAA clearly states that it will not provide funding under the MOUs, there do not appear to be restrictions on a designee incurring costs associated with administration of the test, storage of test-taker data, and production of certificates. Responses to the RFI are due on September 12, 2019; interested parties may view the RFI here.