Given how much chaos drones can cause in sensitive areas, it’s no surprise that the fines attached to violations can be quite high.
Still, nearly $USD 200,000 in fines is a huge number by any standard.
Yet that’s exactly the bill one Pennsylvania drone pilot is facing after posting no less than 26 violations across 26 separate flights into restricted airspace according to the FAA.
DP Review quotes Jonathan Rupprecht, an aviation attorney, who said of the fines, “This is the second largest proposed fine that I know about. Skypan was for about $1.9 million. Drone flyers need to realize that flying a drone is a regulated activity and there are consequences. While a fine might not deter some, laws have been passed in recent years which can send you to federal prison for operating in an unsafe way near airports or aircraft.”
The exact amount of the fines, $USD 182,000, was easy for the FAA to levy given the pilot’s recording of his drone flights and subsequent posting of them to YouTube. The FAA even reached out to the pilot and warned him about the violations but heard no response from the as-yet-unnamed person. Violations include going beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS), operating at night without a waiver, flying too close to buildings, intentionally losing control of the drone, and flying without LAANC authorization. And all of this is easily proven given not only the posted videos but also the reams of other data that can be obtained from both the videos themselves as well as the drone if needed.
Just goes to show you that ignorance of the law, or, in this case, ignoring warnings about the law is no protection against the consequences for breaking it.
As we covered recently, the FAA has released a slew of new rules and regulations for drone pilots in the United States. This was matched by the European Union also offering its own standardized list of rules. You can read those articles here and here respectively.
What do you think of one drone pilot receiving nearly $USD 200,000 in fines? What do you think about proposals for regulating drones in the future? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section.
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As a respectable and responsible pilot where safety is an issue I believe because his lack of respect for the FAA and safety of air traffic he should pay the entire amount and be sentenced to jail time as well.
I agree – it seems like the drone pilot was intentionally disregarding the warnings for one reason or another and thus was acting negligently in this case.