Laser attacks on aircraft have reached a new record, the FAA says

According to FAA data, laser attacks on aircraft are most common in the first hours after midnight

According to federal officials, laser attacks targeting aircraft, including airliners, increased 41% last year to a record high.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it received 13,304 reports from pilots about laser attacks last year, erasing a record set in 2021.

β€œAiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that endangers everyone on the aircraft and on the ground,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a video posted by the agency.

The FAA said pilots have reported 313 injuries since the agency started keeping records in 2010.

Each of the last five months of 2023 surpassed the previous high month, November 2021. The year-over-year increase over 2022 easily surpassed the 28% increase in the number of reported incidents between 2016 and 2022.

Authorities blame the increase in attacks on factors such as the widespread sale of cheap lasers in stores and online, more powerful devices that can hit planes at higher altitudes, and increased awareness among pilots to report incidents.

The FAA said it can fine violators $11,000 for each violation, up to a maximum of $30,800, and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies can file criminal charges.

According to FAA data, laser attacks on aircraft are most common in the first hours after midnight.

First print: February 1, 2024 | 12:28 pm IST