by Graham Sheldon | 19th January 2017
Head over to Skypan International‘s website and you will be greeted with gorgeous shots of the Chicago and New York skyline. Unfortunately, it seems that some of these images were taken in restricted airspace and the FAA has hit the company with a $200,000 fine as a result. All the details below: Back in October of 2015, drone (UAS) operator Skypan International was slapped with a proposed $1.9 million civil penalty from the FAA for flying 65 illegal flights over New York and Chicago airspace between 2012 and 2014. The parties settled this week for $200,000, with additional monetary penalties possible if the company violates restricted airspace in the future, or fails to pay the fine in full. This marks the largest drone related settlement ever according to the FAA. Skypan International has released a statement: “While neither admitting nor contesting the allegations that these commercial operations were contrary to FAA regulations, SkyPan wishes to resolve this matter without any further expense or delay of business. Accordingly, it has entered into three-year agreement with the FAA in which SkyPan will pay a civil fine over a period of three years and pay an additional civil fine in the event Skypan violates any aviation regulation during the next year and pay a civil fine in the event it violates the terms of the agreement. In exchange, the FAA makes no finding of violation.” Image Credit: Graham Sheldon For more information, including maps, on restricted airspace and how it might pertain to your next drone flight you can visit the FAA page: HERE. With so many registered drone flyers now operating in the United States, this fine is clearly intended as a warning from the FAA that unmanned aerial vehicles are not toys and they can pose a threat to aircraft. Companies like DJI have made airspace restrictions easier then ever to recognize — in some cases even prohibiting the drone from taking off. Safe flying out there, folks. Source: FAA/Skypan InternationalRead more
by Graham Sheldon | 7th September 2016
Three years after the DJI Phantom 1 took to the skies and two years after they were banned from all national parks, the Federal Aviation Administration in the US has issued a new set of FAA rules on the piloting of “unmanned aerial systems” a.k.a “drones”. Find out below how you can get certified as a commercial operator. DJI Phantom 2 in Mongolia. Picture Credit: Graham Sheldon The new FAA rules are long. Very long. So, we did all the reading so you don’t have to. If you have a free hour to go through it all, though, you can review the new guidelines yourself HERE. For the most part, the rules are all good news for professional drone operators shooting video or photos. To begin flying commercially you will need to: Register Your Aircraft: HERE. The cost is $5.00. Affix your aircraft with the provided registration number. Pass a TEST with at least a 70% score at one of these FAA approved testing centers. You will need to take a refresher exam every two years to continue operating. The cost to take the exam is $150.00. Once you pass the test, you’ll need to fill out FAA Form 8710-13 for pilot certification HERE. Pass TSA security background check. This may take 48 hours. After several weeks, your new FAA UAS flight certificate will arrive in your mail clearing you for commercial operation. Some of the FAA Rules and In-Flight Operation Guidelines: Be at least 16 years old. Drone must be operating in class G airspace. 100 mph groundspeed limit. Aircraft cannot exceed 400 feet. You cannot operate two aircraft at the same time. Must maintain line of sight of aircraft during flight. Aircraft, with payload, must weigh less than 55lbs. No flying during nighttime. You may operate from a moving vehicle only in sparsely populated areas. Note: This list is not exhaustive and only covers key points. Check HERE for entire ruling. Drones, or unmanned aerial systems, have a sordid history of crashing according to YouTube, and there are now specific FAA rules for crashes that cause significant damage or injury: “Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.” A designated “No Drone Zone” in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Picture: Graham Sheldon “The FAA forecasts there could be as many as 600,000 unmanned aircraft used commercially during the first year after this rule is in place.” FAA Administrator – Michael Huerta While dodging 600,000 unmanned aircraft doesn’t sound appealing, this new ruling does finally gives professional operators the peace of mind knowing that they are operating within a defined legal set of boundaries while filming in the United States. Helpful for insurance reasons too, these rules also remove any ambiguity for producers looking to hire certified commercial drone operators for their next production. Do you fly only for fun? Then ignore the above and look HERE for rules that apply to hobbyist operators. What do you think of the new rules? Too strict, or not strict enough? Comment below.Read more
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