Christmas Laser Light FX Put Flights At Risk, FAA Warns

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a public warning regarding risks to pilots and flight safety from laser light displays that are intended to decorate houses for the holidays but are instead being pointed up the skies.

The warning comes as laser strikes against aircraft continue to increase. From January 1 to November 23 this year the FAA recorded 5,486 laser incidents, up from the 4,949 incidents recorded during the same period last year.

The agency receives reports each year from pilots who are distracted or temporarily blinded by residential laser-light displays.

The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than people might realize. Anyone with a laser-light display in their home that may be affecting pilots will be asked to adjust them or turn them off. Their refusal to comply could result in a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation. Civil penalties of up to $30,800 have been imposed by the FAA against individuals for multiple laser incidents.

Intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety risk and violates federal law. The FAA works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individuals who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft.

Be merry. Be festive. But don’t be a jerk about it.

Marisa Garcia

After working for sixteen years in aviation, specializing in aircraft interiors design and aviation safety equipment, and getting hands-on with aircraft cabins in hangars around the world, Marisa Garcia turned her expertise into industry insight. She has been reporting on aviation matters since 2014. Every day, she's putting words to work.

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