Last updated: 06:52 PM ET, Thu October 22 2015

FAA Proposes Record $1.9 Million Fine Against Drone Operator

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | October 06, 2015

FAA Proposes Record $1.9 Million Fine Against Drone Operator

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The Federal Aviation Administration is coming down hard on an aerial photography company that operated drones near airports in New York and Chicago without authorization. Seemingly looking to send a strong message, the agency has proposed a staggering $1.9 million fine against the company, the Associated Press reported.

The Chicago-based company, SkyPan International Inc., is alleged to have operated at least 65 unauthorized drone flights in crowded airspace above the two metropolises between March 2012 and December 2014, the FAA said in a statement to the AP.

The FAA alleges that more than two thirds of those illegal flights were operated in Class B New York airspace without air traffic control clearance. Class B airspace is typically defined as the ground up to an altitude of 10,000 feet within an approximate 40 mile radius of an airport.

SkyPan has 30 days to respond to the FAA's fine proposal.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta described the operation of unauthorized drones as "illegal and dangerous."

"We have the safest airspace in the world, and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations," Huerta added.

Prior to Tuesday's eye-popping fine proposal, the largest proposed fine related to drone operations was a mere $18,700. That fine was issued to a New York video production company last month, the AP reported. 

As drones have become more prevalent in recent years, the unmanned devices have emerged as a growing threat to commercial jetliners.

The AP reported the FAA received more than 700 reports by pilots of drone sightings between November 2014 and August 2015 despite operators being prohibited to fly the devices within five miles of airports. 

The agency has been working to address the growing concerns drones present. However there's currently no timetable for a set of finalized regulations.


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