The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a whopping $1.9 million fine against SkyPan International Inc. (Skypan), an aerial photography company, for carrying out 65 unauthorized drone flights from March 2012 to December 2014. SkyPan flew its drones over highly populated cities, such as New York City and Chicago, in “congested airspace” and allegedly “endangered the safety of [the] airspace” according to FAA officials. The drone flights did not have two-way radio capabilities, or altitude reporting equipment, which are both required under FAA drone regulations. Additionally, the FAA said that SkyPan did not have an airworthiness certificate or effective registration for its drones.
An FAA representative said, “Flying unmanned aircraft in violation of the federal aviation regulations is illegal and can be dangerous.” However, SkyPan has the ability to respond to the FAA’s violation notice by either paying this $1.9 million fine, submitting a response denying the allegations (which would likely lead to an even longer investigation), or referring the matter to the federal court system. SkyPan is required to make its move within 30 days.