SkyPan Settles With FAA Over Drone Photo Flights


Aerial photography company SkyPan International has reached a settlement with the FAA over charges of violating airspace and other rules with its drones. “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 this week. The FAA hit SkyPan with a $1.9 million fine in 2015, charging that the company flew dozens of unauthorized commercial drone flights between March 2012 and December 2014 in New York and Chicago.Under the three-year agreement with the FAA, SkyPan will pay a $200,000 civil fine, according to news reports. The company also will be subject to additional fines if it violates FAA regulations.

The Chicago-based company, founded in 1988, specializes in panoramic aerial photography using single-rotor drones, maintaining that it flies in private airspace, avoiding people and public areas. It obtained an FAA exemption in 2015 for its flights while the FAA was developing rules for commercial drone operations. The new regulations that took effect in 2016 allow operators to obtain FAA training regarding airspace and operating limitations and obtain pilot certificates to fly unmanned aerial systems.