Pilots Report Numerous Laser Strike Incidents in Boston

According to the FAA, pilots have reported more than 7,400 laser hazard incidents so far this year.

After a record number of laser strikes in 2021, the GAO is calling on the FAA to improve its efforts to curb the impact on pilots. [Courtesy: NBAA]

Law enforcement and aviation officials in the Boston area are trying to figure out who is using lasers to target aircraft. Last week there were three incidents of laser strikes from the ground.

The first two occurred in the predawn hours Thursday and involved two JetBlue aircraft. Both were reportedly struck by green lasers while on approach to land at Logan International Airport (KBOS).

According to the FAA, the first incident was reported by the crew of JetBlue flight 494 from Denver. The second was flight 972 from San Jose, California. The flights landed at KBOS at 5:50 a.m. EDT and 5:54 a.m., respectively. There were no reports of injuries.

The third incident was around 8 p.m. when a Coast Guard helicopter conducting a training flight was struck by a green laser while landing at a Boston-area hospital. Again there were no injuries reported from the event.

Federal Crime

According to the FAA, pilots have reported more than 7,400 laser hazard incidents so far this year. Last year, pilots reported nearly 9,500 to the agency.

"Laser pointers may seem like a toy, office tool, or game," FAA said. "Pointed to the sky, lasers are a serious threat. A laser can incapacitate pilots, putting thousands of passengers at risk every year."

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime. People who do so face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents.

The FAA issued $120,000 in fines for laser strikes in 2021. 

Most often the laser strikes occur near airports often while the aircraft is on approach. When the laser floods the cockpit, the pilots are blinded, which aviation officials note is very dangerous when an aircraft is close to the ground as it is during the landing sequence.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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