FAA goes to the Web to fight lasers directed at aircraft battle

FAA says incident of lasers being pointed at aircraft has hit 2,795 already this year

The Federal Aviation Administration wants you to go online to help it battle the growing safety problem of people pointing lasers at flying aircraft.

The FAA today said it created a new website to make it easier for pilots and the public to report laser incidents and obtain information on the problem which continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, pilots reported 2,795 laser events through Oct. 20. Pilots have reported the most laser events in 2011 in Phoenix (96), Philadelphia (95) and Chicago (83). Since it began tracking laser events in 2005 reports rose from nearly 300 to 2,836 in 2010, the FAA said.   

The website here aggregates laser-aircraft information into one place and includes links for reporting laser incidents, laser statistics, FAA press releases, and FAA research on the dangers lasers can pose to pilots, as well as downloadable videos.

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Other efforts are also under way to reign in the problem.  In June, the FAA announced it would start imposing civil penalties of up to $11,000 against people who interfere with a flight crew by pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft.   At the time the he FAA released what it called a legal interpretation, which finds that directing a laser beam into an aircraft cockpit could interfere with a flight crew performing its duties while operating an aircraft, a violation of Federal Aviation Regulations. In the past, the FAA has taken enforcement action under this regulation against passengers physically on-board an aircraft who interfere with crewmembers.

The agency said it is currently working on 18 civil penalty cases.

The FAA said it recently provided technical expertise to help Myrtle Beach, S.C. develop a law making it illegal to point lasers at aircraft. Myrtle Beach adopted its measure in September 2011, joining a number of other cities and states that now have laws in place making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft.

The FAA says the increase in annual laser reports is likely due to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; increased power levels that enable lasers to reach aircraft at higher altitudes; more pilot reporting of laser strikes; and the introduction of green and blue lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.

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