The FAA just settled one of the biggest drone lawsuits ever

Posted on Jan 18 2017 - 6:44pm by Huzoor Bux



A drone pictured above Munich, Germany.

Image: Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The website of SkyPan International features a slideshow of panoramic aerial photos taken over Chicago and New York City. But, gorgeous as they are, any of them taken by a drone may have cost the company a huge chunk of cash.

The Federal Aviation Administration settled a lawsuit with SkyPan on Tuesday to the tune of $200,000 after alleging the company had used drones to snap aerial cityscape photos from 2012 through 2014 without governmental approval. 

The FAA claimed SkyPan — a company that provides “aerial visual solutions” to a large list of clients in construction and real estate — had broken the law both by flying a drone for commercial purposes, which was not allowed during those years, and by illegally flying a drone over a heavily populated area.

On top of the $200,000 fine, “the company also agrees to pay an additional $150,000 if it violates Federal Aviation Regulations in the next year, and $150,000 more if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement,” FAA officials wrote in a statement.

The FAA also got SkyPan to help them “release three public service announcements in the next 12 months” that will “encourage drone operators to learn and comply with” drone laws.

Though $200,000 isn’t a small sum, it’s not anywhere close to the $1.9 million first sought by the FAA. That was the largest figure the administration had ever sought in a lawsuit against a drone operator in the United States.

SkyPan representatives admitted neither fault nor guilt in a statement following the decision, saying it obtained the required flight permits as soon as those permits were established. 

“SkyPan has never had an accident, and SkyPan has never compromised citizens’ privacy or security,” representatives wrote in the statement.

Company officials wrote that they are “pleased to join with the FAA to promote compliance with safety regulations.”



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