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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Laser Incidents

The FAA remains vigilant in its campaign to heighten public awareness of the serious safety risk posed by lasers pointed at aircraft. However, laser strikes increased in 2020 despite a lower number of air traffic operations.

The FAA reported 9,723 laser incidents in 2021, up from 6,852 in 2020. This is the highest reported number of incidents ever.

Laser Strikes reported to the FAA since 2016
Year Laser Incidents
2021 9,723
2020 6,852
2019 6,136
2018 5,663
2017 6,754
2016 7,398

Laser strikes on aircraft remain a serious threat to aviation safety. Intentionally aiming lasers at aircrafts poses a safety threat to pilots and violates federal law. Many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots flying aircraft that may be carrying hundreds of passengers.

The FAA works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against people who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft. The agency takes enforcement action against people who violate Federal Aviation Regulations by shining lasers at aircraft and can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. The FAA has imposed civil penalties up to $30,800 against people for multiple laser incidents.

To minimize risk, pilots and crewmembers should report laser incidents as soon as possible.

Incident Reports