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House passes stiff penalties for pointing lasers at aircraft

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posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 03:54 PM
Over the years, reports from pilots about lasers being pointed in their direction has been a general nusuience. The House and the FAA have passed a bill inducing a $250,000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment for commiting such an act. Since 1990, lasers have been a problem to General Aviation and Commercial aircraft flying over current United States Territory.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would carry a $250,000 fine and a possible five-year prison term for people who point lasers at aircraft.

Sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), H.R.1400 would patch a hole in federal law where there currently is no prohibition against pointing laser beams at aircraft. Laser beams can temporarily blind pilots and, in some reported cases, cause permanent damage to the eyes. The House passed the bill last Thursday by voice vote, and it is now headed for the Senate. "Small laser devices have become more readily available in recent years, and we've seen a sharp increase in the number of incidents," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "We're certainly glad to see legislation that would help protect pilots."

On January 11, 2005, the FAA issued a four-page advisory circular outlining the actions pilots can take if they've been illuminated. The detailed instructions include a recommendation to contact air traffic control or broadcast the event over unicom to alert other pilots. The FAA also requests that pilots note the time, altitude, color of the laser, originating direction and position, and any other information that may be helpful, including GPS coordinates.

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I think that passing this law is a great idea. I can also see where this could be a problem. Say someone is in distress for any given specific reason, (e.g. stranded, abandoned, etc.). After 400 reports, one would think that this is enough. I give props to the FAA and House for passing this law. Although it should also be taken into consideration for rescue operations.

[edit on 12/14/0505 by brodband]

[edit on 17-12-2005 by asala]

posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 05:33 PM
If you're ever standerd on an island, remember to bring a laser.

posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 05:49 PM
Being a professional theatrical lighting engineer, I fully understand the dangers of lasers, and can also understand the nuiscance they can pose to aircraft (especially some military aircraft that use laser guidance systems).

One question I have about this legislation, though (and don't get me wrong, I fully support it), is what about outdoor concerts/theatre events that make use of lasers. Often lasers used in events of this type are far more powerful than the average laser pointer (laser pointers are 4.9mW lasers, whereas the average professional grade laser light is between 10-20mW- roughly 2-4 times as intense a beam). Many times, these lasers are completely automated by the lighting board (following the predetermined program set forth by whoever programmed that board), and many times, these lasers are used in conjunction with fog effects, and will project into the sky as part of the light show. While no malicious intent is meant, could one of these lasers hitting an aircraft be cause to fine/arrest the lighting programmer, or would, instead, regulations be made to notify the local air traffic control in the event of an outdoor event that uses lasers, so that exceptions or re-routing of air traffic can be made?

Any time I've ever programmed a laser to shoot into the sky, the last thing I'd think of is interference with aircraft - it's all about creating the asthetically pleasing lightshow. At the same time, the last thing I'd ever want to do with a laser, even accidentally, is cause an accident with an aircraft. I'm not out to harm anyone... I'm out to entertain. There's hundreds (and probably thousands) of people like working in the entertainment industry in the US alone, and probably tens of thousands worldwide.

[edit on 14-12-2005 by obsidian468]


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