In a move that's sure to stir the pot of an already hot-button topic, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a record $1.9 million fine against a drone company for operating in a "careless or reckless manner so as to endanger lives or property."SkyPan International, a Chicago-based aerial photography service, has been accused of conducting 65 unauthorized drone flights over New York and Chicago between March 2012 and December 2014, of which 43 were within restricted New York airspace. The FAA alleges the drones used in these flights were flown without air traffic control clearance, transponders (which assign a unique identifier to an aircraft and provide basic information about it), two-way radio communication equipment, or altitude-reporting capabilities, rendering them essentially invisible in the densely populated and highly restricted New York airspace. Furthermore, the FAA has alleged that these drones were not certified airworthy.
The $1.9 million fine associated with the enforcement, which the company has 30 days to respond to, is the largest such fine associated with drone usage in history and comes just before a House of Representatives subcommittee will meet on Wednesday to discuss aviation law and safety as we enter a period in which drones are becoming increasingly popular and prevalent. Tuesday's proposed fine is more than 100 times the previous largest proposed fine, which was a $18,700 proposal, levied against Xizmo Media.
With the issue of the increasing popularity of drones meeting with issues of safety involving aircraft, the FAA seems to have drawn a very clear line in the sand. Do you feel Tuesday's fine was excessive or appropriate? Let us know in the comments.
[via The Washington Post]