The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is making an appeal to the public after reporting that the number of dangerous laser strikes aimed at aircraft in 2023 topped all previous records.
The FAA said it had received a total of 13,304 reports of laser strikes on planes in 2023, an alarming 41% increase from 2022.
The administration highlighted the dangers of shining lasers at aircraft, stating that high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots, many of whom are flying airplanes with hundreds of passengers.
The FAA began recording laser strike incidents in 2010. Since then, pilots have reported 313 injuries.
In a post published on X (formerly Twitter), the FAA appealed to the public for help reporting aircraft laser strikes, which is considered a federal crime in the United States.
People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents. Violators can also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
“The FAA is committed to maintaining the safest air transportation system in the world. Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that puts everyone on the plane and on the ground at risk,” FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said in a statement.
To draw attention to the dangerously high rate of laser strike incidents, the FAA released an interactive graphic that shows laser strike data from 2010 to 2023 and highlights trends by geographic area, per capita data, time of day and year.
On January 25, 2024, the US Air Force stationed at the US military base in Lakenheath, United Kingdom, also issued a warning against the dangers of aiming laser pointers at fighter aircraft and the consequences after experiencing a surge in incidents.