Fri, Dec 10, 2010
No Accidents Yet, But Administrator Calls The Problem
In a blog post on the DOT website, FAA administrator Randy
Babbitt says that an uptick in the number of incidents in which a
laser pointer has been directed at an airplane is a "serious
problem," which pilots should immediately report.
"It sounds silly, but this is a serious problem," Babbitt
writes. "Just this year alone, we have had over 2,200 reported
instances of people pointing lasers into the cockpits of airplanes
flying around some of our nation's busiest airports. This is
up from 283 reported events in 2005."
Babbitt said that a laser directed into a cockpit can
temporarily blind, and at best distracts a pilot. Some have had to
give up control of their airplanes to a co-pilot, and there have
been reports of landings which have been aborted due to a laser
incident. Babbitt said there have also been reports of lasers being
aimed at control tower cabs.
"We know that laser pointers are an important tool for
astronomers and casual stargazers. But, we just can’t stress
enough the importance of being careful when you are shining them
into the night sky," Babbitt wrote. "Flight crews and air traffic
controllers are dedicated to aviation safety and the FAA is
committed to raising the awareness of this important safety issue
so we can stop these laser events from occurring. You can help us
by alerting your local law enforcement officials if you ever see
someone shining a laser at an airplane."
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