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FAA Imposes Civil Penalties for Shining Laser Pointers into Airplanes

July 06, 2011

People who have been shining lasers into airplane cockpits and creating a risk of aviation accidents are now facing civil penalties of up to $11,000 if they are caught.

The FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is cracking down on this activity because shining these lasers into airplane cockpits can blind the pilots, if only temporarily. This presents a huge danger to passengers because a blind pilot cannot operate nor land an aircraft.

The FAA received so many reports about laser pointing incidents that they decided to seek legal advice about whether they could apply an existing rule to this activity that is happening outside of an airplane but is still threatening the aircraft and its passengers. Legal counsel advised the FAA that a rule that states "Anyone who tries to assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crew member in the performance of the crew member's duties aboard an aircraft being operated is liable for civil penalties of up to $11,000", could be applied to people on the ground that are threatening an aircraft's approach.

Laser pointer interfering with the safe operation of airplanes has occurred at the Los Angeles International Airport more than any other location with 102 incidents in 2010 alone. The airport at Chicago O'Hare reported 98 incidents in 2010. This year there has already been 1,100 incidents across the country. Not only are those using laser pointers targeting airplanes, but they are also shining these lasers into helicopters. These lasers shine green or red beams into the cockpit of aircraft. Pilots have reportedly had to hand over the controls to the co-pilot or abort their landing altogether because their vision had been so compromised.

The increase of laser strike incidents has been accompanied by improved police methods that are used to identify and apprehend the offenders. Those arrested will face felony charges along with the new FAA civil fine. This could result in imprisonment. The take away from all of this is that people should not attempt this because is very dangerous and can lead to a serious risk of an airline crash as well as serious criminal and civil penalties.

When we fly on planes we rely on the airline, the pilots, maintenance people, and others to keep us safe from airline accidents. The FAA stepping in to penalize these laser strike offenders is a step in the right direction to reduce airline crashes and promote passenger safety while flying. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed while flying on an airline, our Georgia aviation accident attorneys can speak to you about your case and help you to determine who is responsible for your injuries.

When you or someone you love is injured in an airline crash or other aviation accident, you need a law firm that understands the complexities involved in such cases, with the compassion and understanding to help you or your loved ones through the tragedy. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have been working diligently to help those injured by the careless or intentional acts of others throughout the State of Georgia for over 37 years. Our Georgia aviation attorneys know that the serious consequences and complexity of an aviation accident requires attorneys who are experienced, knowledgeable and most importantly, attorneys who care and who will work hard to protect your rights. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED or visit us on the web at

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.