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FAA Levies Largest Fine Ever On Commercial Drone Company

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The Federal Aviation Agency fined Chicago-based SkyPan International $1.9 million for “careless or reckless” drone operations, the agency’s largest civil penalty in its history.

SkyPan is accused of conducting 65 illegal commercial drone flights for aerial photographs of New York and Chicago between March 2012 and December 2014; 43 of the flights went through “highly restricted” New York Class B airspace without a two-way radio, transponder, and altitude-reporting equipment.

“Flying unmanned aircraft in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations is illegal and can be dangerous,” Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator, said in a statement. “We have the safest airspace in the world, and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations.”

SkyPan has been ordered to respond to the agency within the next 30 days. Karl Brewick, production manager at SkyPan, told TIME the company could not comment because it had not yet had a chance to review the fine.

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Write to Tanya Basu at tanya.basu@time.com