FCC Fines Drone-Maker, Pennsylvania Ham


In two unrelated actions, the FCC is proposing a fine of nearly $3 million for a drone manufacturer it says is using unauthorized audio/video transmitters in its devices, and agreed to a $7,000 payment from a Pennsylvania ham to settle a 4-year-old enforcement action for interference on 14.313 MHz.

The FCC alleges that HobbyKing, which manufactures radio-control craft and associated products, marketed uncertified radio transmitters, sometimes sold as amateur radio equipment, and proposed assessing a fine of $2.8 million.

The action stems from a complaint filed by the ARRL in early 2017, according to the ARRL Letter. The League told the FCC that the devices – which it tested in its lab – operated on frequencies “intended for navigational aids, air traffic control radar, air route surveillance radars, and global positioning systems, not Amateur Radio frequencies, as the marketer had purported.” Because of this, the League complaint added, these devices “represent a real and dangerous threat to the safety of flight.” The FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability said the Commission had previously warned the company to stop selling noncompliant equipment and said HobbyKing also had failed to fully respond to a previous letter of inquiry. The FCC also warned consumers who own these devices to “cease using them immediately or risk enforcement action.”

In Pittsburgh, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania reported that Brian Crow, K3VR, had agreed to pay the FCC $7,000 to settle a previously assessed fine of $11,500 for allegedly causing interference to other amateurs. Crow was one of two amateurs cited in 2014 for intentional interference with communications on 14.313 MHz and for failure to identify his transmissions. The news release from U.S. At

torney Scott Brady also said Crow’s Extra Class license would be reduced to Technician Class for six months, and that he may have no further contact with the other amateurs involved in the case.

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