Bill to prohibit pointing lasers at aircraft moves forward

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or aircraft flight path is on the way to becoming a federal offense in the United States.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or aircraft flight path is on the way to becoming a federal offense in the United States. In late May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1615, the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2007, by a voice vote, which amends the federal criminal code to prohibit the aiming of the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft or its flight path. Penalties imposed by the bill include a fine and/or a prison term of up to five years.

Since 1990 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported more than 500 incidents of pilots being blinded or disoriented by laser beams, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL).

“It’s only a matter of time before one of these laser beam pranksters ends up killing over 200 people in a commercial airline crash,” Keller said. “Aiming a laser beam into the cockpit of an airplane is a clear and present danger to the safety of all those onboard the aircraft.”

Under HR 1615, aiming a laser pointer beam at an aircraft or aircraft flight path would not be illlegal for individuals conducting research and development or flight test operations for an aircraft manufacturer or the FAA; Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security personnel conducting research, development, operations, testing or training; or an individual using a laser emergency signaling device to send a distress signal.

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