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Airline and general aviation groups address the problem of laser pointers

October 28, 2011, 04:20 pm

A recent joint press conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Air Line Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association addressed concerns about laser pointers, which many aviators have raised in recent months, according to Aviation International News.

Laser pointers pose a unique threat to pilots. For this reason, pointing a laser at an airplane or helicopter is a serious offense. When aimed at the cockpit, they can distract or disrupt pilots when landing or taking off, two of the most critical times during a flight for aviators. The source notes that lasers can even temporarily blind pilots if directed effectively, and may cause serious eye injuries.

Speakers at the press conference said they hope more regulation and criminal prosecution of offenders will serve as a deterrent to the problem, which has been mounting considerably in recent months.

Laser pointers are just one of several unique threats to the safety of airline operators and general aviation pilots alike. Many of these risks may be effectively covered by a specific pilot insurance policy that can be applied for at a reasonable rate through a pilot or aviation organization.

According to the source, the rise in the number of laser-related incidents is alarming. When the Federal Aviation Authority first organized a system to report laser incidents in 2005, pilots and air traffic controllers reported 300 incidents. That number has continually risen ever since, and the FAA says that to date, pilots and air traffic control towers have 2,795 incidents this year.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are exploring legal options that would make pointing a laser at an aircraft a specific crime in order to impose harsher penalties. Recently, the FAA launched a website that allows pilots to report and log laser pointer incidents, collecting the data and tracking the continuing rise of the worrisome trend.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, airplane pilots and flight engineers held about 116,000 positions in 2008. Recent changes to pension benefits for many airline pilots are expected to cause a spike in retirement among older pilots, leading to a series of openings in the job market.

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