High-powered laser pointers can incapacitate pilots flying airplanes with hundreds of passengers. To combat the threat, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen has requested laser manufacturers add a warning label to their packaging to make consumers aware of the safety risks and federal laws when using lasers.
“Lasers may seem like just a toy, office tool, or game for most, but they can incapacitate pilots putting thousands of passengers at risk every year,” Nolen said. “People need to be aware that pointing a laser at an airplane is a federal crime.”
Pilots reported 9,500 laser strikes to the FAA in 2022. Two hundred and seventy-eight pilots have reported an injury from a laser strike to the FAA since 2010.
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. The FAA issued $120,000 in fines for laser strikes in 2021.
“Placing information directly in the hands of individuals ensures everyone knows the risk – and the penalties – of pointing lasers at aircraft,” Nolen said in his letter to manufacturers and distributors. “If you already have a warning on your packaging, the FAA asks that your company increase the warning’s prominence.”
To learn more about the dangers of laser strikes, you can view the FAA’s visualization tool, which shows laser-strike data from 2010 to 2022. You can also watch a video about the dangers of lasers or visit the FAA’s website and fact sheet for more information.