- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2023

The Federal Aviation Administration has sent a letter to the manufacturers and distributors of laser pointers, asking them to add warning labels about shining lasers at airplanes.

The requested warning labels would inform consumers of the safety risks and legal liability of zapping planes. A laser light can temporarily blind pilots, risking not only their safety but that of their passengers as well.

Pilots reported 9,453 laser incidents to the FAA in 2022, and 278 pilots have reported injury from bright laser light since 2010, 34 of which occurred in 2022.

“Pointing a laser at an aircraft threatens pilots, and it is a federal crime. U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration may seek criminal and civil prosecution against violators. Don’t shine this laser at aircraft,” the suggested warning reads.

Those caught shining their lasers at aircraft face fines from authorities, up to $11,000 for a violation and up to $30,800 for those who commit multiple laser offenses.

Laser offenses in 2022 most commonly happened in the middle of the night; 7,805 incidents occurred between midnight and 5 a.m. in 2022, 82.5% of such incidents last year.

California and Texas together account for over a quarter of the 2022 incidents. California had 1,586 incidents, 16.78% of the national total, while Texas had 1,011 incidents, 10.70% of the 2022 national tally.

No other state had an incidence rate reaching quadruple digits.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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