The United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) acting Administrator Billy Nolen has issued a public request to laser manufacturers to add a warning label on their products’ packaging about the hazards of pointing lasers at aircraft.
“Lasers may seem like just a toy, office tool, or game for most, but they can incapacitate pilots putting thousands of passengers at risk every year. People need to be aware pointing a laser at an airplane is a federal crime,” read Nolen’s letter to laser manufacturers.
According to the FAA, 9,500 laser strikes – that is, incidents where people point lasers at landing/departing aircraft – were reported by pilots in 2022. Furthermore, 278 pilots have reported injuries from lasers since 2010.
Pointing a laser at an aircraft carries hefty penalties. A single violation can set back the perpetrator up to $11,000, while multiple penalties can result in a $30,800 fine.
“Placing information directly in the hands of individuals ensures everyone knows the risk – and the penalties – of pointing lasers at aircraft. If you already have a warning on your packaging, the FAA asks that your company increase the warning’s prominence,” continued Nolen’s plea to laser manufacturers.
Per the FAA’s factsheet, there are numerous reasons why the number of laser strikes has grown over the past few years. These include the availability of cheap lasers at stores and e-commerce sites, the number of lasers given as gifts and stronger power levels that enable people to aim these lasers at aircraft at higher altitudes.
Additionally, due to the government agency’s outreach program, more pilots have become aware of the risks associated with lasers strikes and the need to report such incidents to the FAA.