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Photo via SkyPan International
Photo via SkyPan International

If you’re a professional photographer/videographer who has been using drones to capture some spectacular scenes, you might want to take note of this — the FAA has proposed a $1.9 million fine against a Chicago drone operator for conducting unauthorized operations in public airspace.

In the FAA release, the agency states that the $1.9 million proposed fine is the largest civil penalty so far against a UAS operator, SkyPan International, for “endangering the safety of our airspace.”

The FAA contends that SkyPan flew 65 unauthorized missions between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014, in “some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities.”

Photo via SkyPan/New York City photo of 80 South St.
Photo via SkyPan/New York City photo of 80 South St.

The areas under question include Chicago and New York City, 43 of those ops occurring in “highly restricted New York Class B airspace,” according to the FAA.

The FAA says that SkyPan did not get clearance for those flights, nor did they operate with the proper equipment — a two-way radio, transponder and altitude-reporting equipment.

SkyPan has 30 days to respond.

Granted, check out SkyPan’s work here — it’s pretty stellar — but if there’s one thing you just don’t do, it’s fly unauthorized aircraft over urban areas already on alert looking for nefarious activity, a.k.a. don’t mess with NYC airspace.

As we reported, 13 companies, including Amazon, finally received clearance from the FAA to operate drones in Washington state earlier this year.

So, drone operators, be warned. Get your paperwork in order before you fly.

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