FLYING Magazine

The FAA said it received 13,304 reports of laser strikes from pilots last year, marking a 41 percent increase over the 9,457 reported during 2022 and setting a record for the growing hazard.

The agency said it is raising public awareness of how dangerous laser strikes are and that pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense. The FAA is working with law enforcement across the country to address the problem. Its efforts include pursuing civil and criminal penalties against people who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft.

READ MORE: FAA Wants Laser Makers’ Help in Combating Aircraft Laser Strikes

“The FAA is committed to maintaining the safest air transportation system in the world,” said FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker. “Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that puts everyone on the plane and on the ground at risk.” 

The FAA can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser violations. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies can also impose criminal penalties for laser violations.

READ MORE: Air Force Pilots Report Surge in Laser Strikes

Many types of lasers are powerful enough to incapacitate pilots and cause eye injuries, putting aircrews and potentially hundreds of passengers in danger. The agency said pilots have reported 313 such injuries since it began collecting laser-strike data in 2010.

“Like many crimes, there’s a need for education, outreach, and cooperation from the public to address this safety risk,” Whitaker said. “We encourage you to report laser strikes to the FAA via our website or to your local law enforcement agency.”

The FAA developed a visualization tool that shows laser-strike data from 2010 to 2023 and related trends based on geographic area, per capita data, time of day and year.

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