FAA Launches Laser Incident Reporting Web Page

Laser reports continue to rise despite stiff federal penalties.

laser

laser

In an effort to combat the growing problem of lasers being pointed at aircraft, where they can affect the pilots’ vision, the FAA has created a new website to make it easier for aviators and the public to report laser incidents.

The website includes links for reporting laser incidents as well as a database of laser statistics and FAA research on the dangers lasers can pose to pilots, as well as downloadable videos.

“As a former commercial airline pilot, I can tell you that shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is a serious safety risk,” FAA Administrator Babbitt said on Thursday at a conference on the dangers of lasers, sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). “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.”

Laser event reports have risen steadily since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots. Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 in 2010. This year, pilots reported 2,795 laser events through Oct. 20. Pilots have reported the most laser events in 2011 in Phoenix (96), Philadelphia (95) and Chicago (83).

The FAA began addressing the problem in 2005 by encouraging pilots to report laser events to the nearest air traffic control facility and requiring those facilities to immediately relay that information to local law enforcement agencies. In June 2011, the FAA announced it would start imposing civil penalties of up to $11,000 against anyone who interferes with a flight crew by pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft. The agency is currently processing 18 such civil penalty cases.