Drone Company Could Face Nearly $2 Million in Fines

Despite the lack of finalized rules governing the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, the FAA is getting serious about managing the operations of UAS. The agency has proposed a fine of $1.9 million to a company in Chicago called SkyPan International, Inc.

The FAA alleges that, between March 21, 2012, and December 15, 2014, the company conducted 65 unauthorized operations in heavily congested airspace over densely populated areas, violating airspace regulations and operating rules. The company was alleged to have conducted illegal photo flights, of which 43 were flown within New York's Class B airspace. The FAA says the aircraft did not have the required two-way radio, transponder or altitude reporting equipment, nor did they have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization — currently the only way around the commercial restrictions on drone flight.

The agency said SkyPan operated the UAS in a "careless and reckless manner so as to endanger lives or property."

"We have the safest airspace in the world and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations," said FAA administrator Michael Huerta.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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