surge in laser strikes on aircraft

Laser Strike Reports Soar to New Heights, Endangering Flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported a concerning surge in laser strikes on aircraft, reaching an unprecedented high in 2023.

With 13,304 incidents recorded last year, there has been a staggering 41 percent increase over 2022, marking the highest number of laser strike reports in aviation history. These dangerous actions not only jeopardize the safety of pilots, many of whom are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers, but also pose a significant risk to those on the ground.

Laser strikes, involving the shining of high-powered lasers at aircraft, have been identified as a severe safety hazard. Since 2010, when the FAA began tracking such incidents, 313 injuries have been reported by pilots, highlighting the potential for these actions to incapacitate those at the controls.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker emphasized the agency’s commitment to ensuring the safety of the nation’s air transportation system, stressing the grave danger and legal consequences of aiming lasers at aircraft.

The FAA has established penalties for such violations, with individuals facing fines of up to $11,000 per incident and up to $30,800 for multiple violations. Furthermore, offenders may also be subject to criminal charges by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

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Whitaker called for public education, outreach, and cooperation to combat this safety risk and urged the public to report any laser strikes to the FAA or local law enforcement.

To better understand and address the issue, the FAA has developed a visualization tool that provides detailed data on laser strikes from 2010 to 2023. This tool helps identify trends by geographic area, per capita data, and timing, showcasing the FAA’s efforts to raise awareness about this growing concern.

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