Stiff Penalties Coming for Aiming Lasers at Aircraft

 - January 12, 2007, 6:01 AM

The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that imposes a $250,000 fine and up to a possible five-year prison term for people who point lasers at aircraft. Sponsored by Ric Keller (R-Fla.), the legislation is the outgrowth of several recent incidents. Laser beams can temporarily blind pilots and, in some reported cases, cause permanent eye damage. The bill now awaits passage by the Senate. The FAA has established a reporting system to track the trend, and on January 11 issued an advisory circular outlining the actions pilots can take if they’ve been illuminated by a laser. Among other recommendations, the circular advises reporting laser incidents to ATC or broadcasting the event over unicom to alert other pilots. The FAA also requests that pilots note the time, altitude, color of the laser, originating direction and position and any other information that may be helpful, including GPS coordinates.