With the increasing number of incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft during takeoffs and landings, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it is taking action. Although there has yet to be a crash of a commercial airliner due to a laser beam shined in the cockpit, the FAA has announced it will fine people up to $11,000 found pointing lasers at aircraft according to CBS Evening News.
Chief pilot of the Burbank and Glendale Police Departments noted that one green laser “felt like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat”. These lasers have the capability to blind a pilot in the pivotal moments during takeoff and landing or could cause a significant distraction. With these new regulations the FAA will be able to seek civil charges against those who shine lasers at aircraft, and criminal charges may even be sought under state or federal laws according to the Washington Post.
Last year (2010), a total of 2,836 incidents were recorded involving lasers shining into the cockpits of aircraft – a significant increase from 1,527 incidents in 2009. Already this year there has been over 1,000 incidents involving lasers. FAA administrator Randy Babbitt said at a recent news conference, “It’s simple: Point the laster, pay the price.” With such incidents posing a very serious threat to airline safety, it is refreshing to hear that the FAA is taking action. Interfering with a pilot during such critial periods of flight could come at a very high cost – the loss of lives of passengers in the event of a crash.