FAA Steps Up Enforcement of Laser Penalties

May 17, 2012 at 7:11 am | Posted in Lasers | Leave a comment

FAA Steps Up Enforcement of Laser Penalties

Source: US FAA


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has directed its investigators and staff to pursue stiffer penalties for individuals who purposefully point laser devices at aircraft.

“Shining a laser at an airplane is not a laughing matter. It’s dangerous for both pilots and passengers, and we will not tolerate it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will pursue the toughest penalties against anyone caught putting the safety of the flying public at risk.”

The number of reported laser incidents nationwide rose from 2,836 in 2010, to 3,592 in 2011. Laser incident reports have increased steadily since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots.
The FAA supports the Department of Justice in its efforts to seek stern punishment for anyone who intentionally points a laser device into the cockpit of an aircraft.

“We will continue to fine people who do this, and we applaud our colleagues at the Justice Department who have aggressively prosecuted laser incidents under a new law that makes this a specific federal crime,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.

The FAA has initiated enforcement action against 28 people charged with aiming a laser device at an aircraft since June 2011, and this week the agency directed FAA investigators and attorneys to pursue the stiffest possible sanctions for deliberate violations. The FAA has opened investigations in dozens of additional cases.

The FAA announced last June it would begin to impose civil penalties against individuals who point a laser device at an aircraft. The maximum penalty for one laser strike is $11,000, and the FAA has proposed civil penalties against individuals for multiple laser incidents, with $30,800 the highest penalty proposed to date. In many of these cases, pilots have reported temporary blindness or had to take evasive measures to avoid the intense laser light.

The guidance for FAA investigators and attorneys indicates laser violations should not be addressed through warning notices or counseling. It also directs moderately high civil penalties for inadvertent violations, but maximum penalties for deliberate violations. Violators who are pilots or mechanics face revocation of their FAA certificates, as well as civil penalties.

Local, state and federal prosecutors also have sentenced laser violators to jail time, community service, probation and additional financial penalties for court costs and restitution.


The Effects of Laser Illumination

April 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Lasers | Leave a comment

It seems as if the effects of Laser Illuminiation on aircraft is once again hitting the headlines, we recently posted an article from IFALPA on this subject on our social media site.

This does make for fascinating reading as the “man on the street” does not know the effects that laser illumination has on pilots during flight and what a safety hazard it is.

The following article from the ALPA-SA website is fascinating reading.

Laser Incidents:

The Air Line Pilots’ Association South Africa would like to express its concern with the increased projection of laser light into the air in particular the lasers used in the vicinity of aerodromes can seriously affect the visual performance of pilots. Members of the Association are reporting increased incidents of sudden and intense bursts of light, sometimes even being deliberately shone at aircraft in the airspace in and around aerodromes.  The public should be informed and made aware that they can be arrested when engaging in such unlawful activities   The use of lasers for outdoor entertainment is increasing and it is becoming apparent that certain flight hazards are associated with temporary vision loss during critical phases of flight. When such laser displays are projected into airspace and intercept aircraft, unplanned exposure may cause pilot distractions or create temporary vision impairments.  These effects may pose significant flight safety risks in particular during approach and landing operations.
The danger of light emitted by lasers is the fact that the light is focused by the lens of the eye onto a very small spot on the retina.  It is this focusing of the laser beam that makes the eye more sensitive to laser radiation and in the USA, shortly after take-off a pilot on a commercial flight was hit in the eye by a laser beam.  He was completely flash-blinded in his right eye and suffered impaired vision in his left eye. He was unable to see for 30 seconds and for another two minutes was unable to interpret any of his flight instruments.   Such an event has obvious safety implications in imperiling the lives of aircrew, passengers and those living in the vicinity of aerodromes.

Source: ALPA-SA

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