Skypan International, an aerial photography firm based in Chicago, has been accused of conducting 65 illegal flights in congested airspace over Chicago and New York. The fine, issued by the FAA, amounts to $200,000.
Originally, the FAA had threatened a $1.9m charge, but Skypan agreed to pay the lower civil penalty to settle the case, along with helping the watchdog’s drone-use education programme, and it risks paying a further $300,000 fine if it is found to break the law again.
Skypan made a statement in which it points to its safety record, as well as noting that its first flights were conducted two years before the FAA’s first rule for commercial UAVs came into effect last August. Before that rule, drone operators were required to have a pilot’s licence to carry out commercial flights, as well as receiving FAA approval for each flight. The rules have since been slightly relaxed, but further education over the rules is expected to be issued from the FAA in the coming months