FAA warns pilots of increased laser strikes from holiday displays infecting aviation airspace
I love driving around in my car during the holidays, looking at the beautiful laser light displays in the neighborhoods near my house. Unfortunately, the FAA just issued a new warning about these beautiful displays concerning aviation airspace. When lasers are aimed incorrectly, they are potentially dangerous to the pilots flying overhead.
Holiday laser light displays should be aimed at buildings, when they are not, they are the same threat to aviation airspace as any other type of laser, whether intentionally malicious or not. The FAA receives numerous reports each year from pilots who are distracted or temporarily blinded by residential holiday laser light displays.
Home and business owners may not realize how far these extremely concentrated beams of light can travel. For those who decorate with lasers, they must confirm that the beam is aimed properly at their house or property. If the authorities learn that a display is affecting pilots, they will ask the homeowner to turn the display off, aim it differently, or risk a civil penalty.
This new warning comes as the frequency of laser strikes against aircraft and helicopters continues to increase. Sadly, laser incidents are not going away, despite the FAA’s attempt to inform the public of the dangers associated with their use.
The FAA works with federal, state and local law enforcement to track these lasers and protect pilots flying overhead. I’m sure that most pilots are aware of the dangers of intentional laser beams aimed at their aircraft, but the holiday displays took me by surprise. The same preventative measures apply – turn up your interior lights as high as possible and avoid looking outside until the threat has passed. And as always, report your location when you have a laser encounter – you may save the pilot behind you.
Stay safe this holiday season!