The FAA hasn’t made it that drones can simply fly the skies in the U.S unchecked—which is why SkyPan got struck with an almost $2 million fine back in October for over 60 illegal flights in NYC and Chicago—cities known as hotspots for air traffic.
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Those flights were meant as part of SkyPan’s efforts to map out cities from above for various projects. The flights in question all took place between 2012 and 2014 before the FAA formulated the commercial drone rules two years later.
The fine has since been dropped to $200,000, but SkyPan could rack up additional fees to the tune of $150,000 if it doesn’t comply with the settlement. SkyPan risk another $150,000 if the company violates FAA rules again next year.
Currently the main rules are against flying near aircraft and flying near stadiums and—depending on the airspace—flying near government buildings, but there are a number rules going into flying over areas with heavy ground traffic and drone size.