FAA’s $1.9 million fine against drone photography company is biggest yet…

The Federal Aviation Administration is getting serious about enforcing regulations about drone operations.

The largest civil penalty yet against an unmanned aircraft (drone) operator was announced Tuesday, when the FAA proposed a $1.9 million fine for SkyPan International, Inc., an aerial photography company based in Chicago.

The FAA said SkyPan conducted a total of 65 unauthorized drone operations in Chicago and New York City from 2012 to 2014. Citing congested airspace over heavily populated cities, the FAA said the operations “were illegal and not without risk.”

Forty-three of the 65 operations were in the highly restricted New York Class B airspace, according to the FAA.

SkyPan produces aerial virtual tours, which it describes as “360º panoramic imagery displayed in a viewer, allowing you to interactively pan around, looking in different directions.” The technology is useful for city developers, for example, who want to show what a view might look like from a building not yet constructed.


SkyPan has been conducting aerial photography above private property in urban areas for 27 years in full compliance with published FAA regulations,” a spokesperson for SkyPan told Mashable in a statement. “SkyPan is fully insured and proud of its impeccable record of protecting the public’s safety, security and privacy.”

Lawmakers have recently been looking to crackdown on illegal use of drones. This large fine will likely send a message to the drone-operating community.

The FAA is working on formalizing national regulations for drone use, however the administration missed a deadline of Sept. 30 and final rules are now expected to come no sooner than next year.

“We have been consistent in saying that we’re going to move as quickly as possible, but the integration of unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace is going to have to proceed on an incremental basis,” an FAA spokesperson told NBC News last week.

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