It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you're an airline pilot, flying over a home bedazzled with holiday laser lighting that's pointing up at the sky. If that happens, you and your passengers could be in serious danger, because you could be distracted or temporarily blinded by the residential laser-light display.
Laser lights have quite a reach
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which says it receives reports of such incidents each year from pilots. Thus, in what has become a holiday tradition, the FAA has issued a warning to homeowners with laser light displays to make sure those lights are NOT aimed skyward. The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than might be realized. People with laser-light displays that affect pilots will be asked to adjust them or turn them off. A refusal to do so could lead to a civil penalty.
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.
Penalties are possible
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. The agency may impose civil penalties 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.