FAA Fines UAV Operator for Reckless Flight in New York City


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has fined an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operator $2,200 for recklessly flying an aircraft in restricted airspace in New York City on Sept. 30, 2013.

David Zablidowsky launched a quadcopter from a Manhattan building, bouncing the UAV off two skyscrapers before crashing it 20 feet from a pedestrian near Grand Central Terminal, according to an article by Bloomberg. The fine is the first time the FAA has attempted to penalize a UAV operator for a non-commercial flight.

The FAA found Zablidowsky, who never obtained permission from air traffic controllers for the UAV operation, because he filmed the flight and was seen preparing the aircraft for takeoff from a balcony.

In addition to the fine, Zablidowsky also apparently lost his quadcopter. The pedestrian who was nearly struck by the UAV took off with the aircraft.

Zablidowsky can appeal the fine.

The FAA's authority to regulate UAVs has been muddled, as an administrative law judge in March dismissed a $10,000 penalty against Raphael Pirker for a commercial UAV operation in October 2011. In his decision, which the FAA is appealing, the judge determined that the agency's regulatory power over UAVs was based on rules that are not binding to the general public.

Read the full Bloomberg article here.

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