Wed, Sep 21, 2011
Feds And Local Jurisdictions Step Up Penalties
The increased effort to prosecute those who point lasers at
aircraft isn't turning out to be much of a deterrent. The FAA says
the problem is growing rapidly, despite the imposition of an
$11,000 civil penalty in one case in June. There were 2,776
reported cases in 2010. The FAA says we're on track to top that by
35 percent in 2011.
Of that $11,000 penalty, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt
explains, "These are not toys. They certainly are not being used
for what they were intended for. That's why we are taking such an
FAA spokesman Jim Peters tells the Orlando Sentinel one company
this year introduced a $300 laser which can cause near-instant
retina damage at close range, and another that promises an 85-mile
range for $1,000.
Larry Dale is president of Orlando Sanford International
Airport, and also a pilot. He theorizes that most of the incidents
are not malicious, but simply people playing with lasers. The FAA
reports 35 pilot and passenger complaints of temporary problems
such as flash blindness, blurry vision, eye irritation and
headaches, but no reports of serious or permanent eye damage.
Steve Farris, chief pilot for the Seminole County Sheriff's
Office, whose helicopter has been hit by lasers, tells the Sentinel
a red or green laser is the color of nav lights, and could make a
pilot make a sudden, evasive maneuver, thinking he's about to hit
With the tougher stance by the FAA, and sentences now including
stiff fines from local courts, hopefully those warning labels on
lasers will get a little more attention.
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