Reporting of Laser Illumination of Aircraft
a. This Advisory Circular (AC) provides information to the aviation community, particularly aircrews operating within the National Airspace System (NAS) on measures taken by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address incidents of unauthorized illumination of aircraft by lasers. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, passed into public law on February 14, 2012, established a prohibition against aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
b. In addition, this AC provides guidance to aircrews and reflects current guidance for air traffic control (ATC) on the formal reporting of laser illumination incidents. Reporting laser incidents assists law enforcement and provides support for recommended mitigation actions to be taken to ensure continued safe and orderly flight operations.
c. This AC is issued in serious response to the significant increase of unauthorized laser illumination of aircraft incidents, as well as the proliferation and increased sophistication of laser devices available to the general public and other parties. FAA and other governmental studies show the exposure of aircrews to laser illumination may cause hazardous effects (e.g., distraction, glare, afterimage, flash blindness, and, in extreme circumstances, persistent or permanent visual impairment), which could compromise safety by adversely interfering with the ability of aircrews to carry out their responsibilities. ATC regards a laser illumination incident as an in-flight emergency, and will treat them as such, until the aircrew states otherwise.
d. The FAA, in coordination with local law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other governmental agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is taking immediate action to safeguard flights against these unauthorized illuminations and expeditiously locate the source of unauthorized laser transmissions.