FAA treating laser incidents seriously

FAA treating laser incidents seriously

The Federal Aviation Administration will alert law enforcement and security agencies through the Domestic Events Network about incidents of lasers being aimed at aircraft. Air traffic controllers also will notify other pilots about laser incidents, the FAA said in an Advisory Circular released yesterday.

The Domestic Events Network enables sharing of security information affecting national airspace and air traffic operations among FAA, Transportation Security Administration and other agencies.

The measures, designed to respond to a spate of recent laser incidents, are meant to provide police with more timely and detailed information to help them identify and prosecute those who are shining lasers at planes. The measures are effective Jan. 19.

'Shining these lasers at an airplane is not a harmless prank. It is stupid and dangerous,' said Transportation secretary Norman Mineta. 'You are putting other people at risk, and law enforcement authorities are going to seek you out, and if they catch you, they are going to prosecute you,' he said.

FAA research has shown that laser illuminations can temporarily disorient or disable a pilot during critical stages of flight such as landing or take-off, and in some cases, may cause permanent damage. The FAA will continue to conduct research to determine if there are technological solutions for enhancing flight crew safety during laser events, Mineta said.

Transportation will also work with the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and others to improve product labeling and better educate the public about lasers.

'We are treating lasers in the cockpit as a serious aviation safety matter. We must act now before someone's reckless actions lead to a terrible and tragic incident,' Mineta said. Since late December, 31 lasers incidents involving aircraft have been reported, with seven in the past weekend.

Evidence indicates that the people shining lasers at planes are careless individuals who are using commercially available lasers in a manner that is reckless and illegal. 'There is no specific or credible intelligence that would indicate that these laser incidents are connected to terrorists,' Mineta said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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