Laser Lights an Increased Threat to Pilots

by NPHM | December 10th, 2010

Last week, a number of pilots reported incidents of laser lights being pointed into the cockpit from the ground while approaching the runway. Laser lights may obstruct pilots’ vision and pose a potential threat to air travel safety.

Increased Danger

There were 17 reports filed at the Newark Liberty Airport in New York, just last week. So far this year, more than 2,200 reports of laser incidents have been filed—up from recent years. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to pilots about these dangers, and is conducting an investigation of the events.

Laser lights have the ability to hit targets miles away and may cause blurred vision and damage to the retina. Some laser lights even have the power to burn through plastic at close range.

Breaking Federal Law

Pointing a laser at an airplane is a violation of federal law and perpetrators may face charges, such as attempting to interfere with an aircraft with reckless disregard for safety, among others. According to ABC News, if convicted, one man may face 20 years for each of his charges and a $250,000 fine.


“Blinded by the Light: FAA Warns Pilots of Laser Dangers.” Sharyn Alfonsi and Leezel Tanglao. ABC News.
December 2010. Accessed on 12/09/10.