Laser Infractions Ramped Up Significantly In 2023


Despite what the FAA describes as a “vigilant campaign to heighten awareness of the serious safety risks,” laser strikes on aircraft increased markedly last year after a slight decline for the previous year. According to an FAA press release today (Jan. 30), there were 13,304 reported laser strikes last year, up from 9,457 in 2022. The 2022 figure represented an improvement from the 9,723 incidents in 2021.

“Intentionally aiming lasers at aircraft poses a safety threat to pilots and violates federal law,” the FAA wrote. “Many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots flying aircraft that may be carrying hundreds of passengers.”

The agency said it works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to find people who deliberately aim lasers at aircraft and take enforcement action against them. That can include civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation and/or criminal charges. The FAA said it has imposed civil penalties as high as $30,800 for multiple infractions.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Pool starting – How long before some expertist/credentialist makes the case that this is a compelling reason to transition to fully autonomous ops?

    In the meantime, punishment and sentencing for perps need to carry some real, significant bite.

  2. There is simply more and more of them out there every year as they become cheaper to acquire. Add that to no shortage of idiots who think that pointing them at aircraft is a neat thing to do. Also, don’t rule out the terrorists and other got-a-ways in our country through the open borders trying to cause mayhem from within.

  3. Just stop the sale of these devices. Oh, wait, we can’t do that. It’s akin to stopping the sale of assault rifles. Tramping on people’s “rights” (to injure and kill others). But seriously, what are these things good for other than using the as pointers in lecture presentations? Industrial use?

  4. From the chart, 90+% of these laser hits are occurring between 1am and 3am, and below 10,000 ft…!!! Who the heck in up at these hours using a laser pointer.?
    Maybe don’t fly at these ridiculous hours, or give the pilots window shades and side-vision limiting goggles…and, they should be in instruments anyway.

    Another good reason to not fly at night.!