There’s no doubt that aerial photography has been quite popular in the last few years, giving us soaring views of the world we live in, from a different (and often awe-inducing) vantage point. But aerial photography and drone usage had been largely unregulated until earlier this year when the FAA finally proposed a number of rules to help control drone usage. Though not complete nor perfect, it’s a start. States are also trying to provide even more restricted use in an effort to protect its citizens and their privacy rights.
Unauthorized drone usage has interfered with recent firefighting efforts, have endangered nature and wildlife at National Parks, and have come dangerously close to commercial airlines, threatening the safety of the passengers on board. Now, the FAA is sending a message to drone operators that those who don’t follow its regulations may face a hefty penalty.
The FAA levied a whopping $1.9 million dollar fine against SkyPan International, a company that reportedly conducted 65 flights over congested (and some of the most restrictive) airspace over New York and Chicago between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014.
SkyPan’s Remote Piloted Vehicles (RPV), which shoots 360-degree panoramas and gives a “bird’s eye view” of these cities for urban developers, allegedly did not have authorization or air traffic control clearance for these flights. The FAA press release further alleges that SkyPan’s drones did not have an airworthiness certificate or effective registration, nor a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for the flights. The aerial vehicles also did not possess two-way radios, transponders, and altitude reporting equipment.
SkyPan, which had yet to officially comment, pending review of the documents, has 30-days to respond to the complaint, though some reports state that SkyPlan was completely surprised and thinks that the proposed fine is “ridiculous and unfair.”
What do you think?