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U.S. may introduce legal penalties for pointing lasers at aircraft

March 10, 2011, 11:54 pm

The Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011 has been included as an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill and was passed in the House of Representatives on February 28, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The act is in response to the rising number of recent reports involving people on the ground aiming lasers at aircraft. A notable recent report by the Federal Aviation Administration remarked that the number of laser incidents reported by pilots nearly doubled in 2010 compared to the year before.

The bill makes shining a laser towards an aircraft a crime, which may result in having to pay a fine, spending up to five years in prison or both, for offenders, according to the AOPA.

Lasers can place pilots in potentially dangerous situations by temporarily or permanently blocking their vision, making them unable to maneuver the aircraft safely.

They're also dangerous during landing and takeoff. "In one instance the pilot thought he was about to strike the warning light on a tower. In another case the laser beam was thought to be the lights of an approaching aircraft," said California Representative Dan Lungren, who sponsored the bill in Congress.

Lasers are one of the many potentially fatal hazards pilots face. Life insurance for pilots is essential in preparing their families, should they be involved in a fatal accident. 

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