FAA Will Fine Laser Violators

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The FAA, frustrated by a rise in incidents of lasers pointed at aircraft, said on Wednesday it will impose civil fines of up to $11,000 against violators. "Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is not a joke," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "These lasers can temporarily blind a pilot and make it impossible to safely land the aircraft, jeopardizing the safety of the passengers and people on the ground." The FAA said after a legal review (PDF), it has determined it will cite a rule against interfering with a flight crew performing its duties. The agency is also supporting pending legislation in Congress that would make it a criminal offense to point a laser at an aircraft. Pilots have reported more than 1,100 laser events already this year.

Los Angeles International Airport recorded the most laser incidents of any airport last year, with 102 reports. Airports in Chicago, Phoenix, and San Jose, Calif., also reported 80 to 98 incidents. The increase in reported incidents over the last several years is due to a number of factors, the FAA said, including increased outreach to pilots to encourage reporting, the easy availability of cheap and powerful laser devices online, and the introduction of green lasers, which are easier to see than red lasers. The FAA said it also works with law enforcement agencies to assist with criminal prosecutions under state and local laws.