I recently wrote a piece titled “FAA Wants $1.9 Million in Fines from SkyPan Intl.,”about the hefty fine that SkyPan International may potentially face. The FAA has proposed the $1.9 million dollar fine for allegedly flying 65 unauthorized drone flights over various locations in New York City and Chicago between March of 2012 and December of 2014. 67% of the flights were in the highly congested and restricted New York Class B airspace.
DroneLife, in the recent post, “SkyPan Responds to FAA Fine,” talked about the initial 3 part response provided by SkyPan International.
SkyPan International, the aerial photography firm hit with a proposed $1.9 million FAA fine for unauthorized drone flights, has published a response. Responding not only to the specific charges but also to public opinion, the statement hits back on concerns of safety and responsible drone use.
In a three-part response published on the SkyPan website, the company first highlights the positive economic impact of their own commercial drone use. Pointing out that aerial photography assists the commercial real estate sector in several ways, SkyPan states that their contribution to local commercial real estate development “helps create jobs, has a multiplier effect on local economic expansion and spurs urban areas to develop in a vigorous, sensible and culturally viable manner and pace.”
SkyPan then cites their safety record, claiming that in the 27 years that the company has been in business, they have never had an instance of damage to person or property, or been accused of an invasion of privacy or safety violation.
Since the DroneLife posting, it appears that SkyPan has expanded upon their initial 3 points. I’ve marked the initial 3 points in italics. Their argument now includes:
- SkyPan is good for business — because the visual assets it creates provide an economic accelerator effect to the commercial real estate sector.
- SkyPan has a 27-year record of providing aerial view panoramas to residential real estate clients in major U.S. cities without a single instance of personal or property damage, without a single instance of invasion of privacy, and without a single instance of jeopardizing security or safety.
- SkyPan operates only in privately owned air space over the private property of its clients. Never flying over people or public spaces, SkyPan always maintains straight up/straight down flights with fulltime altimeter monitoring and complete aircraft control.
- SkyPan proactively contacted the FAA in 2005, 2008, and 2010 to explore special permitting for its commercial UAS activity, by discussing regulatory and suggested technical parameters with FAA officials in Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C. and in 2015 was awarded a “333” exemption to the FAA’s blanket ban on commercial UAS operation.
- SkyPan has led by example and through its membership in several trade associations has shared research and development results throughout the commercial UAS community.
- SkyPan is well regarded as a market leader and the oldest continuing RC helicopter company in the nation.
- SkyPan desires and intends to continue to provide this valuable service to the American real estate industry, and in order to do so will continue to work with the FAA to resolve the technical and legal parameters of SkyPan’s unique and exclusive over-private-property operations in its commercial UAS enterprise.
The question remains – will the argument, even in its 7 point expanded form, have an impact on the FAA’s decision to fine SkyPan.
It’s important to note that SkyPan International is a Section 333 exempt business. Even with an exemption, it’s important to always follow the laws and regulations that govern the use of your drone. Understanding all of the laws and regulations can be confusing, that’s why I recommend all drone enthusiasts attend at least an introductory course at a reputable drone college.
Stay tuned for more updates as this story continues to unfold.
About SkyPan International
SkyPan International Aerial view photography shows exactly what you will see from any floor of your building-before it’s built. New technology. Interactivity. Day to Dusk. Mobile to Desktop. We provide complete visual content.
SkyPan International is a Section 333 exempt business.