U.S. FAA launches website for pilots and public about laser incidentsOctober 28th, 2011 - 11:06 pm ICT by BNO News
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday announced that it has launched a new website for pilots and the public to report laser incidents and obtain information on the subject.
As the number of incidents involving laser pointing at aircraft continues to increase, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said the new website contains a wide array of information about the subject. It includes links to report laser incidents, laser statistics, downloadable videos, FAA press releases and FAA research on the dangers lasers can pose to pilots.
According to the FAA, reporting about laser incidents has increased steadily since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots. Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 in 2010.
This year, pilots reported a total of 2,795 laser incidents through October 20. Most of the incidents reported so far this year took place in Phoenix (96), Philadelphia (95) and Chicago (83).
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood underlined the danger of pointing lasers at aircraft, while Babbit, a former commercial airline pilot, stated that “shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can distract or temporarily blind pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and could compromise the safety of hundreds of passengers.”
The FAA began addressing the problem in 2005 by encouraging pilots to report laser events to the nearest air traffic control facility and require facilities to immediately relay that information to local law enforcement agencies.
In June, the FAA announced it would start imposing civil penalties of up to $11,000 against people who interfere with a flight crew by pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft. The agency is currently working on 18 civil penalty cases while legislation is pending which would make it a specific federal crime.
The increase in annual laser reports is likely due to a number of factors, the FAA explained, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet, increased power levels which enable lasers to reach aircraft at higher altitudes, more pilot reporting of laser strikes, and the introduction of green and blue lasers which are more easily seen than red lasers.
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