FAA Launches Website
In Ongoing Fight To End Laser Strikes On Aircraft
By Daniel Baxter
October 27, 2011 - In the past 11 months, Randy Babbitt,
Administrator for the FAA and Ray LaHood, Secretary of
the Department of Transportation have worked to raise
public awareness about the dangers of shining a laser at
an airplane or helicopter.
Unfortunately, however, these dangerous incidents are
still on the rise. As part of our ongoing effort to stop
these threats to pilot, crew, and passenger safety, the
Federal Aviation Administration has launched a new
The new site includes statistics, research on the
dangers lasers pose, and links for reporting laser
incidents. It also features downloadable videos.
Pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft threatens lives. As FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, ?As a former commercial airline pilot, I can tell you that shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is a serious safety risk.
distract or temporarily blind pilots who are trying to fly
safely to their destinations and could compromise the safety of
hundreds of passengers.?
the early increase from 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009--can be
attributed to pilots, air traffic controllers, and the public
becoming more aware of the dangers and calling local
authorities. But the dramatic rise cannot be explained away that
easily. Portable laser pointing devices are less expensive, more
powerful, and more readily available than ever. And people seem
unable to resist the very dangerous temptation to shine them at
FAA has also been more active than ever in trying to protect the
safety of pilots, crews, and passengers. In June, the FAA
announced it would start imposing civil penalties of up to
$11,000 against people pointing a laser into the cockpit of an
aircraft, and the agency is currently working on 18 civil
penalty cases. The FAA also worked with Myrtle Beach, SC, to
develop a law making it illegal to point a laser at an aircraft.
In September, Myrtle Beach passed its law, joining a number of
other states and communities who have recognized the dangers
?The website FAA Administrator Babbitt launched today at the Air Line Pilots Association "Laser Illumination Conference" is another step in this ongoing pursuit of safety. And I urge you to visit the new site and share it with your friends.
?Safety is our
absolute number one priority, and we will do everything we can to get
the word out about how dangerous it is to point a laser at an aircraft.
These incidents must stop?.
The demands on a
pilot?s vision are task dependent and frequently change according to the
particular phase of flight and current visual conditions. Of principal
concern to aviators is the possibility of being illuminated by a laser
during terminal operations, which include approach, landing, takeoff,
and departure maneuvers.
low-level flight operations at night are particularly vulnerable to
accidental or malicious laser illumination. During these activities, the
pilot?s visual workload is highest, and the time to recover from
exposure to a visually debilitating light source is minimal. Should
distractions or physiological impairment disrupt cockpit procedures,
flight crew coordination, or communication between the pilot and air
traffic control personnel during critical phases of flight, the
consequences could be catastrophic.
On October 30, 1995,At approximately 6:30 pm PST the first officer on Southwest Airlines flight 1367 sustained a debilitating eye injury after being irradiated by a laser beam on departure from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, NV. The airplane was enroute from Las Vegas to San Antonio, TX, climbing through 7,000 feet MSL, on a standard instrument departure route when the incident occurred.
pilot-in-command (first-officer) reported that the laser beam sweep
through the cockpit, resulting in temporary blindness and pain in his
right eye, in addition to after-image effects that impaired the vision
in his left eye. The pilot could not focus or interpret any instrument
indications and was disoriented for several minutes requiring the
captain to assume control of the aircraft (13). Note: As a result of
this incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) placed a
moratorium on outdoor laser activities in the Las Vegas area.
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