SkyPan International, the aerial photography firm hit with a proposed $1.9 million FAA fine for unauthorized drone flights, has published a response. Responding not only to the specific charges but also to public opinion, the statement hits back on concerns of safety and responsible drone use.
In a three-part response published on the SkyPan website, the company first highlights the positive economic impact of their own commercial drone use. Pointing out that aerial photography assists the commercial real estate sector in several ways, SkyPan states that their contribution to local commercial real estate development “helps create jobs, has a multiplier effect on local economic expansion and spurs urban areas to develop in a vigorous, sensible and culturally viable manner and pace.”
SkyPan then cites their safety record, claiming that in the 27 years that the company has been in business, they have never had an instance of damage to person or property, or been accused of an invasion of privacy or safety violation.
SkyPan has developed and utilized time-tested safety protocols and procedures, invested in continual research and development of flight system technology, and provided detailed pre-flight process consultation with property owners and major engineering/construction contractors. These measures and systems ensure that SkyPan, always operating with ample insurance, property owner advance clearance, and robust legal advisory fundamentals, consistently and reliably protects the interests of its business clients, surrounding property owners and the public at large.
SkyPan also states that they use only single rotor robots which have been tested and inspected by the FAA, claiming that they are “one of the safest UAV operations in the USA.”
In direct answer to the FAA accusation, SkyPan categorically denies the charges, stating:
SkyPan operates only in privately owned air space over the private property of its clients. Never flying over people or public spaces, SkyPan always maintains straight up/straight down flights with fulltime altimeter monitoring and complete aircraft control. SkyPan never operates higher than surrounding structures and never penetrates the navigable US airspace as defined by the FAA.
The FAA alleges that the company flew 65 unauthorized drone flights over various locations in New York City and Chicago between March of 2012 and December of 2014, 43 of these in the highly congested and restricted New York Class B airspace.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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