Pointer: don’t aim a laser at an aircraft

January 6, 2017 – This post is on behalf of FAA Aviation Safety in Kenai, Alaska, in an educational outreach effort to students and the Kenai Peninsula communities.

Homer and Kenai report aircraft are being targeted by lasers.

When aimed at an aircraft from the ground, the powerful beam of light from a handheld laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots. Those who have been subject to such attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night.

The Federal Aviation Administration along with local law enforcement investigates each report. If you have information of laser activity by someone you know, please take a minute to report them. Our goal is to keep the skies and pilots safe. It would be very sad if this resulted in an aircraft accident here on the Kenai Peninsula. Let’s work together as a community and stop this before anything happens.

The FBI announced a program aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft—a felony punishable by five years in jail—and in some locations, reward those who come forward with information about individuals who engage in this dangerous activity.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law. It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions.

The new initiative—which includes a campaign to educate the public about the dangers of “lasing”—will run for 60 days in 12 FBI field offices where laser strikes against aircraft are prevalent. A key part of the program is reward money: At some locations, the Bureau will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft.

We hope that more public awareness about this issue will lower the instances of laser strikes. We also want to encourage people to come forward when they see someone committing this felony—one that could have terrible consequences for pilots and their passengers. As of December 2013, the FAA had documented at least 35 incidents where pilots required medical attention after a laser strike.

Interfering with the operation of an aircraft has long been a federal crime, but the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically made it a federal felony to knowingly point the beam of a laser at an aircraft. The new law has lowered the threshold for prosecution, and the trend is on the rise for jail time in these cases. For example, a 23-year-old California man was sentenced to 21 months in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. Court records showed that the man deliberately tracked and struck the aircraft.

If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI office or dial 911.

info: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/laws/

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