FAA slaps drone user with record $1.9 million dollar civil penalty
If you are one of the many Americans who has recently purchased an unmanned aircraft system (UAS or "drone"), you need to be aware of the potential consequences of operating a drone without understanding FAA regulations. Just ask SkyPan, a Chicago-based aerial video company. SkyPan was recently slapped with a $1.9 MILLION fine. The reason? SkyPan operated drones in violation of numerous FAA regulations. The FAA currently treats drones just like manned aircraft...sort of. Right now there are no drone specific regulations (Congress has told the FAA to promulgate such regulations, but such an undertaking will take at least a couple of years to complete). As a result, the FAA applies traditional manned aircraft regulations to drones. Understanding the unique nature of drones, however, the FAA will make exceptions for drone users. However, if you want to operate a drone for commercial purposes (like SkyPan), you need to get the FAA's permission first.
If you are looking to fly a drone for fun, chances are you won't need special permission from the FAA. But you will need to make sure you comply with certain rules and regulations. If you own a business and are looking to use a drone (either as a primary function of your business or just as a small part of your business), you are going to want to talk to a lawyer to help you navigate the ever evolving FAA regulatory scheme. While you almost certainly won't meet the same fate as SkyPan, you could very well find yourself with an FAA Civil Penalty on your hands.
Posted by Alec Cannon