It is a federal crime to point any kind of laser beam at an aircraft. Under federal law, “Whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” Under the law, the Federal Aviation Administration may seek a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation.
Even inexpensive, hand-held lasers can have a range of two miles and present problems for aircraft. The light spreads out as it travels and can illuminate an entire cockpit. It can jeopardize the vision of pilots and interfere with their instruments. According to the FAA, there were 3,482 such incidents reported in the country last year.
Violators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. To report the misuse of a laser pointer, call 911. For information about the laws regarding laser pointers, visit justice.gov or the FBI’s and FAA’s websites. ••