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FAA Fines Drone Pilot $182,000

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an $182,000 fine to a drone pilot for multiple (continued) violations of Part 107 -at least 26 violations to be more precise. Between December 2019 and August 2020, the drone pilot flew his drone around Philadelphia in violation of FAA regulations, sometimes violating more than one part of the regulations during a single flight. Before issuing the fine, the FAA sent a warning letter in October 2019. In November 2019, the FAA provided the drone pilot with counseling and education regarding requirements for safe drone operations.

The drone pilot put a number of videos on YouTube showing screenshots of the ground control station that has all sorts of things like altitude, the drone’s distance from the pilot, the drone’s location on a map, direction of flight, and other information. The FAA was able to use these videos to prosecute this individual.

Part 107 requires operators to obtain an authorization for Class B, C, D, or E2 controlled airspace. All authorizations are done through the FAA’s Drone Zone portal or through LAANC. If there are no authorizations through those means in Philadelphia at the time of the video footage, then the FAA knows that the drone pilot did not fly in accordance with Part 107. Additionally, accordingly to the FAA the drone pilot also committed the following violations:

  • Drone flights at night, “in heavy fog” and “while it was raining,” “while it was snowing,” and “during strong winds.” (Part 107 prohibits night flying and flying with visibility less than 3 statute miles).

  • Multiple drone flights that were very close to multiple buildings and structures. (Part 107 does not allow you to cause undue hazard to people’s property if a loss of control were to happen for any reason during the drone operation).

  • Some of the flights were over the Philadelphia downtown area over moving vehicles and people. (Part 107 prohibits flying over people and, as noted above, prohibits causing undue hazard to people on the ground).

  • The drone pilot did not have a remote pilot certification.

Overall, the FAA alleges that the pilot violated 12 Part 17 regulations over 26 different flights, with each subsection of Part 107 a separate violation. The lesson here -follow Part 107, know the rules and operate safely. Happy flying.

 

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Copyright © 2021 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 359
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About this Author

Kathryn Rattigan Attorney Cybersecurity Data Privacy
Associate

Kathryn Rattigan is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She advises clients on data privacy and security, cybersecurity, and compliance with related state and federal laws. Kathryn also provides legal advice regarding the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. She represents clients across all industries, such as insurance, health care, education, energy, and construction.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Compliance

Kathryn helps clients comply...

401-709-3357
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