FAA hands out record $1.9M fine to Chicago-based SkyPan for illegal drone use

by Gannon Burgett

posted Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 4:27 PM EDT

The FAA isn’t playing games when it comes to the reckless and illegal flight of drones. Yesterday, the FAA announced it was hitting SkyPan, a Chicago-based real estate aerial video company, with a whopping $1.9-million fine for illegally flying its drones in both Chicago and New York.

According to the FAA, ‘SkyPan conducted 65 unauthorized operations in some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities, violating airspace regulations and various operating rules.’ As a result the FAA is handing out a record-breaking fine that SkyPan has 30 days to officially respond to.

Although a formal response has yet to come to life, SkyPan claims it did nothing wrong, stating ‘[we have] been conducting aerial photography above private property in urban areas for 27 years in full compliance with published FAA regulations. SkyPan is fully insured and proud of its impeccable record of protecting the public’s safety, security and privacy.’

This is just the latest attempt from the FAA to curb illegal and unauthorized use of drones, especially in highly-populated and private environments. It’ll be interesting to see how this particular case plays out, as it’s not only the largest fine the FAA has handed out for illegal drone usage, but also comes across as an attempt by the FAA to show just how serious they are about these kind of incidents.