More than a slap on the wrist: Aerial photography company hit with large fine for FAA violations


posted Friday, January 20, 2017 at 7:00 AM EDT


After seeking a record sum of US$1.9 million from aerial photography company SkyPan International, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted $200,000 as part of a settlement. SkyPan International was charged with orchestrating 65 unauthorized flights in congested airspaces, lacking proper certification and registration for flights and not flying with the proper signaling equipment on-board to alert other aircraft to the presence of the SkyPan drones.

However, as part of the settlement, the FAA made no findings of violation. If SkyPan violates the settlement during the next year, they will be charged an additional $150,000 and an additional $150,000 if they fail to comply with agreement terms. According to SkyPan, the civil fine will be paid over a period of three years.

The alleged violations took place during 2012-2014 in New York City and Chicago and the FAA opened an investigation in 2015. SkyPan has been in the aerial photography business for 28 years and has regularly utilized full-size helicopters and remote control helicopters during its tenure. The violations took place during a period when the FAA was still developing drone regulations, but nonetheless, it appears that SkyPan got off much easier than it otherwise could have. In its released statement, SkyPan says, “[We] have never had an accident. SkyPan continues to strive to maintain the utmost levels of safety, security and privacy protection in its operations.” Ultimately, nobody was hurt and SkyPan will be able to continue its business, this time in a compliant fashion.

(Seen via USA Today)