April 10, 2005
Anyone who "knowingly aims a laser pointer at an aircraft" in the United States could be fined or imprisoned up to five years thanks to a bill sponsored by Representative Ric Keller (R-Fla.). The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee last week. Currently there are no laws that specifically prohibit pointing laser beams at aircraft, which could temporarily blind the pilots.
"About one to two incidents involving lasers aimed at general aviation aircraft are reported each month," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "Not only is this an annoyance, it also can be a serious safety problem for pilots."
The number of reported incidents involving lasers has dramatically increased. There have been 400 such incidents since 1990, according to Keller. CQ Today , a daily legislative news publication, noted that 100 of those have been reported within this past year. See AOPA's air traffic services brief, " Lasers and General Aviation," for more information.
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