Friday, May 02, 2014

New York Drone Crash Prompts Second Federal Aviation Administration Fine for Reckless Flight

A man whose drone hit two buildings in New York before crashing into a sidewalk 20 feet from a pedestrian near Grand Central Terminal last year was fined $2,200 by the U.S. government.

The penalty is the second issued by the Federal Aviation Administration against a pilot of an unmanned aircraft as regulators struggle to police the burgeoning use of drones that anyone can purchase online or at hobby shops. The FAA doesn’t allow drone flights in the U.S. unless it has granted a special permit, which wasn’t done in this case.

The FAA said David Zablidowsky flew a small helicopter off a building on East 38th Street in Manhattan on Sept. 30, 2013, according to a letter proposing the fine. Zablidowsky didn’t obtain permission from FAA air-traffic controllers and his aircraft struck two buildings before crash landing, according to the letter.

The letter, dated March 20, was released by the agency today.

An administrative law judge on March 6 dismissed the FAA’s $10,000 fine against another drone operator after finding the agency didn’t have regulatory authority over his small plane. The agency has appealed that decision.