SkyPan, an aerial photography company, is going to have to pay a hefty fine for violating the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone rules. The FAA announced it reached a settlement in which SkyPan will pay a US$200,000 civil penalty.
According to the FAA, SkyPan operated unmanned aircraft in congested airspace over New York City and Chicago, violating airspace regulation and operation rules. In addition to the penalty, the company will also have to pay an additional $150,000 fine if it violates regulations over the next year, and $150,000 more for failure to comply with the agreement.
"While neither admitting nor contesting the allegations that these commercial operations were contrary to FAA regulations, SkyPan wishes to resolve this matter without any further expense or delay of business," SkyPan wrote in a statement.
SkyPan will also work with the FAA in releasing public service announcements in support of the FAA’s public outreach campaigns. The campaigns are designed to help drone operators learn and comply with drone rules.
"All pilots—those operating both manned and unmanned aircraft—have a fundamental responsibility to abide by FAA’s regulations to assure a single set of operational allowances and restrictions that may protect the flying public, as well as people and property on the ground," according to SkyPan. "SkyPan encourages all commercial UAS operators to carefully read Part 107, to understand its requirements and limitations, and to seek guidance from the FAA if they have any questions."
The agreement also settles the $1.9 million civil penalty the FAA first proposed against Skypan in October 2015, the largest civil penalty the FAA has proposed against a UAV operator.
"SkyPan’s flights were conducted two years before the FAA’s first rule for commercial UAS operations, commonly referred to as Part 107, went into effect in August 2016, and all but a few were conducted before the FAA began to issue exemptions to authorize commercial UAS operations in September 2014 under the Section 333 process," the company wrote. "SkyPan has never had an accident, and SkyPan has never compromised citizens’ privacy or security."