Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Drone-photography company fined $200,000 by Federal Aviation Administration

WASHINGTON – A drone-photography company has agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty to settle allegations without acknowledging violating federal regulations for flying remote-controlled aircraft for years over New York and Chicago, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday.

SkyPan International agreed to pay an additional $150,000 if it violates the settlement during the next year, and another $150,000 if fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, the FAA announced.

The FAA initially sought to fine SkyPan International $1.9 million, in the largest case yet against a drone company.

"While neither admitting nor contesting the allegations that these commercial operations were contrary to FAA regulations, SkyPan wishes to resolve this matter without any further expense or delay of business," the company said in a statement. "In exchange, the FAA makes no finding of violation."

In the civil case filed in October 2015, the FAA alleged that SkyPan flew 65 unauthorized flights between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014.  SkyPan lacked the proper certificate and registration for the flights, didn't have special permission from FAA or air-traffic control and the aircraft weren't equipped with equipment to signal their presence to other aircraft, the FAA alleged.

SkyPan applied on Dec. 22, 2014, for an FAA exemption to fly drones, which the FAA approved April 17.

At the time of the disputed flights, FAA was developing its comprehensive regulations for commercial drones. The FAA began issuing waivers for commercial flights in September 2014 and completed regulations for drones weighing up to 55 pounds in June 2016.

SkyPan said it has been conducting aerial photography above private property in urban areas for 28 years, using both full-size helicopters and remote-controlled helicopters. The flights were typically over dirt, grass or paved lots to show high-rise views that assist developers with design plans for new buildings, according to the company's application.

The images have been used to sell or lease $55 billion of commercial and residential real estate since 1988, according to the application for a waiver. Clients included developers Durst, Extell, Hines, Howard Hughes, Vornado and Zeckendorf.

FAA’s drone regulations will allow SkyPan and others to fly in controlled airspace if authorized by air-traffic controllers. SkyPan in its statement urged the industry to work collaboratively with the FAA to balance commerce with safety.

"SkyPan has never had an accident," the company said in resolving the FAA complaint. "SkyPan continues to strive to maintain the utmost levels of safety, security, and privacy protection in its operations."

Source:   http://www.usatoday.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.