... And the FAA's New Rules About Lasers

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Starting Jan. 19, pilots must immediately report any laser sightings to air traffic controllers, who then would advise all pilots in the area and contact law-enforcement officials, according to a new FAA Advisory Circular released yesterday. A warning will also be broadcast on the ATIS if the event happens in the airport vicinity. Pilots who encounter a laser should avoid direct eye contact and shield their eyes to the extent possible, the AC (wisely) advises. Pilots are also asked to file a written report of the encounter after landing. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta announced the new measures at a press conference in Oklahoma City yesterday. "We will do everything we can to make sure each case is aggressively prosecuted. ... We are treating lasers in the cockpit as a serious aviation safety matter," he said. He stressed that while laser encounters have recently increased, there is no indication that terrorists are at work. The incidents seem to be the result of pranks or carelessness. "We will work with police to identify the source of the lasers," the secretary said. Since Dec. 23, there have been 31 reported laser incidents involving aircraft, seven in the past weekend alone. Since 1990 there have been over 400 similar (reported) incidents.