January 20, 2011
By AOPA ePublishing staff
Reports of lasers pointed at airplanes almost doubled from 2009 to 2010, the FAA announced Jan. 19.
Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005, when the agency first began keeping track, to 1,527 in 2009 and a record 2,836 in 2010.
“The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot’s eyes or cause temporary blindness,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials.”
The FAA said the increase in reports is likely due to a number of factors, “including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; higher power levels that enable lasers to hit aircraft at higher altitudes; increased pilot reporting of laser strikes; and the introduction of green lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.” Some cities and states have made it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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