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FAA Proposes $1.9M Fine Against SkyPan for 'Unauthorized' Drone Flights

by Devin Coldewey /

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The Federal Aviation Administration may be busy evaluating and approving all manner of commercial uses of drones, but that doesn't mean you can start flying yours willy-nilly in restricted airspace. But that's just what Chicago drone company SkyPan allegedly did, according to an FAA press release. The proposed consequence is no slap on the wrist, but a major $1.9 million fine.

Related: NFL Is First League to Fly Drones With FAA Permission - But Not Over Games

This isn't just for floating a drone in a park without getting the proper permit.

"Between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014, SkyPan conducted 65 unauthorized operations in some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities, violating airspace regulations and various operating rules," read the FAA release.

Related: FAA Proposes Rules for Routine Commercial Use of Drones

Flying near airports without notifying them, lacking safety gear like altimeters and transponders, and more — the FAA's complaint against SkyPan is serious. After all, an unscheduled UAV flight could interfere with emergency helicopters and low-flying small aircraft like seaplanes, especially if the operator isn't flying according to FAA regulations on altitude and location.

SkyPan has 30 days to respond to the allegations. In an email to NBC News, SkyPan declined to comment, indicating that it had yet to review the FAA's case.

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