Dangerous laser strikes topped all previous records in 2023, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced this week.
The FAA said it received 13,304 reports from pilots last year – a 41 percent increase over 2022.
Laser attacks in the state of Washington continued to be consistently high, with 530 laser attacks in 2023.
Shining a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety threat. Many types of high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots, many of whom are flying airplanes with hundreds of passengers. Pilots have reported 313 injuries since the FAA began recording data on laser strikes in 2010.
“The FAA is committed to maintaining the safest air transportation system in the world. Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that puts everyone on the plane and on the ground at risk,” said FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker.
People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents. Violators can also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
“Like many crimes, there’s a need for education, outreach, and cooperation from the public to address this safety risk. We encourage you to report laser strikes to the FAA via our website or to your local law enforcement agency,” Whitaker added.
To identify laser-strike trends, the FAA’s visualization tool shows laser-strike data from 2010 to 2023 and highlights trends by geographic area, per capita data, time of day and year. The FAA shares the information to draw attention to the dangerously high rate.
Laser report data by year can also be downloaded on the FAA’s website.
The FAA strongly encourages the public to report laser strikes to the FAA and local law enforcement agencies.
Here’s a video produced by the FAA on laser strikes: