FAA Needs to Better Cope with Increase in Lasers Targeting Aircraft – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio
It’s a dangerous federal crime that puts pilots and passengers at risk: pointing lasers at planes.
A new surveillance report reveals there were a record number of reported incidents involving lasers targeting aircraft last year, with 9,723 cases reported in 2021.
That’s a 42% increase over the previous year, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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“This is serious enough that the FAA considers every laser incident an in-flight emergency because there is potential for accidents and also the effect it has on pilots, particularly their vision,” Heather Krause said. , Director of the Physical Infrastructure Team at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The GAO report calls on the FAA to improve how it collects and shares information about laser incidents.
Currently, the FAA asks pilots to complete a questionnaire after each laser incident, but this is voluntary and time-consuming.
The report said the FAA received responses for only 12% of incidents in one year.
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It also calls on the FAA to improve how it shares incident information with law enforcement and to provide more comprehensive information about laser incidents in its reports to Congress.
The FAA accepted the recommendations, according to the report.
It’s all part of an effort to crack down on criminals who are often hard to catch.
“It can be very difficult to identify subjects when it comes to laser incidents,” Krause said. “These lasers can travel long distances, which can result in a wide search area.”
The GAO said its investigation found several possible reasons for the increase in laser incidents.
“We spoke to some FAA officials and stakeholders, and they gave various reasons that might contribute to this,” Krause said. “The availability of inexpensive lasers. The abundance of lasers as you can buy them online and in stores and also super powerful lasers. So the lasers that have been adjusted to have a much higher impact and can hit planes and can cause them to crash.
The report states that laser incidents can result in “penalties ranging from $50 to $27,388 and penalties of up to 51 months.”
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