Look, up in the sky – it’s a bird! It’s a plane! Well, whatever it is, don’t use a laser to point it out.
Aviators flying over Connecticut reported more than 111 incidents of lasers being pointed at their airplanes from 2010 to 2014. Across the nation there were more than 17,000 laser incidents, according to a database released by the Federal Aviation Administration.
No injuries were reported in any of the cases in the database, but the FAA warns lasers are potential hazards. They can distract pilots or cause temporary blindness, just as a bright camera flash would, at critical periods of flight, such as landing. Earlier this week, a pilot flying into Logan International Airport in Boston reported a green light shining into the cockpit as he landed — but acknowledged the lights might have been fireworks, according to Boston.com.
In addition to being a potential hazard, it’s also illegal to shine lasers at an airplane.
The Connecticut incidents declined over the period for which data is available, while incidents increased nationwide.
There were 28 incidents in Connecticut in 2010; 26 in 2011; 25 in 2012; 17 in 2013 and 15 incidents in 2014.
Nationwide there were 2,776 in 2010; 3,575 in 2011; 3,482 in 2012; 3,960 in 2013 and 3,894 in 2014. That’s more than 10 per day in 2013 and 2014.
Virtually all of the incidents involved green lasers, which can appear brighter than other color lasers because of the human eye’s sensitivity to green light.
“…The wavelength of most green lasers (532 nm) is close to the eye’s peak
sensitivity when they are dark-adapted,” an FAA safety brochure on laser hazards reports. “A green laser may appear as much as 35 times brighter than a red laser of equal power output. Due to this heightened visibility and increased likelihood of adverse visual effects, illumination by green lasers may result in more events being reported.”