FAA Launches New Website for Reporting Laser Incidents
October 27, 2011 – The FAA has a new website that makes it easier for pilots and the general public to report incidents where lasers are pointed at aircraft. The website also has the latest statistics about laser incidents, FAA press releases, and FAA research on the dangers lasers can pose to pilots, as well as downloadable videos.
“Safety of the traveling public is our absolute No. 1 priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We will do everything we can to get the word out about how dangerous it is to point a laser at an aircraft. These incidents must stop.”
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, a former commercial airline pilot, attested to the safety risks involved with lasers. “Lasers can distract or temporarily blind pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and could compromise the safety of hundreds of passengers.”
And it’s not just airliners experiencing laser tagging; according to Tammy Jones, FAA spokesperson, “A lot of GA aircraft have reported incidents to air traffic control.” ATC then contacts local law enforcement, which immediately attempts to locate the source and apprehend the perpetrators. GA pilots who experience being shined by a laser in flight should report it immediately to air traffic control, Jones said.
The FAA says laser event reports have increased steadily since a formal reporting system was created in 2005 - from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 last year. In 2011, pilots reported 2,795 laser events through October 20, with the most coming from Phoenix (96), Philadelphia (95), and Chicago (83).
In June 2011, the FAA announced civil penalties of up to $11,000 against people who “interfere with a flight crew by pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft” and there are currently 18 civil penalty cases pending.