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Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft in flight could be catastrophic for an affected aircrew and possibly for people on the ground. Though the devices’ compact size, easy availability, and widespread ownership may make hand-held lasers seem harmless, they pose a big danger when pointed at aircraft. It is also against the law.
A laser’s intense light can cause flash blindness in pilots and aircrew members during critical phases of flight, such as airfield approach and landing. Disrupted vision could cause ineffective aircraft control measures, possibly leading to the loss of the aircraft and crew, and even endangering people on the ground below.
According to local, state and national sources, lasing aircraft is a growing aviation safety concern nationwide. For all aviators, safe operation of their aircraft is always the first priority.
Aircrew can report incidents to the FAA here and through the local safety office
On the ground call 911
FAA fines go up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents.
As laser incidents increase, the Department of the Air Force is working to find better ways to track and share information with the Federal Aviation Administration. Education for Aircrews and the public are also a key strategy to help reduce incidents and keep Airmen and Guardians safe.
If you witness or experience an aircraft lasing event, please report it to local law enforcement or the FAA.
On February 14, 2012, the President signed Public Law 112-95, the "FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012."
Section 311 amended Title 18 of the United States Code, Chapter 2, § 39, by adding § 39A, which makes it a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft.
Aircrew are issued laser eye protection glasses before each flight. If you are an aircrew member who wants more information, talk to your local aircrew flight equipment office.
If there is injury or it is a hazard to flight operations it is a mandatory reportable event and must be reported through AFSAS by safety channels per DAFI 91-223. Air Force crews should also report lasing events to the FAA and inform their operations supervisor who is responsible for notifying the base command post.
Once laser strike has ceased, aircrew are instructed to note the time, aircraft's parameters, and point of origin of the laser if known. Aircrew shall then report that information to:
- The responsible air traffic facility who record the event, broadcast notice to other aircraft, and notify the Domestic Events Network
- Operations supervisor who notifies command post and OSI
- Flight Safety: 91-223 Table 3.5 mandatory safety reporting requirement: Event occurred in-flight, negatively impacted flight operations or safety, or resulted in eye-irritation or post flight medical evaluation.
If you see someone lasing an Aircraft call 911 to report it.
Most are Class D Mishaps. A Class D mishap is any work-related mishap resulting in a recordable injury or illness not otherwise classified as a Class A, B, or C mishap. These are cases where, because of injury or occupational illness, the employee only works partial days, has restricted duties or was transferred to another job, required medical treatment greater than first aid, or experienced loss of consciousness. In addition, a significant injury, including a laser eye injury, diagnosed by a licensed health care professional must be reported even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work, job transfer, medical treatment greater than first aid, or loss of consciousness. More information on mishap classifications here
DAFMAN 91-223 - Aviation Safety Investigations and Reporting
DAFI 91-204 - Safety Investigations and Reports
FAA JO 7110.65Z - Air Traffic Control
FAA JO 7210.3AA - Air Traffic Organization Policy
The FAA reported 9,723 laser incidents in 2021, up from 6,852 in 2020. This is the highest reported number of incidents ever. REf: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/laws
Listen to an FAA podcast on aircraft lasing here
Visit the FAA website for more laser safety information
Airmen from throughout Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility traveled to Basa and Clark Air Bases, Philippines, to conduct several Subject Matter Expert Exchanges with Airmen from the Philippine Air Force, Jan. 23 through 27.
The Air Force has a new policy allowing pregnant aircrew members to voluntarily continue to fly, and Maj. Lauren Olme is one of the many people benefiting from the change in policy.
Ah yes, we’re finally in the midst of winter. Oktoberfest has come and gone. The holidays have passed but snowboarding and skiing season is finally here! With all the thrills comes a laundry list of inherent risks and potential dangers that require controls to avoid injury and stay safe on the