As the number of dangerous laser incidents around the country continues to rise, the FAA has rolled out a new website to make it easier for pilots and the public to report laser incidents. The website also includes a knowledge base of articles and information on the subject, highlighting the dangers of shining a laser at the cockpit of any aircraft.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that the 'safety of the traveling public is our absolute number-one priority. We will do everything we can to get the word out about how dangerous it is to point a laser at an aircraft. These incidents must stop.'
The website, http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/safety/report/laserinfo/, contains a collection of a wide array of laser information, links to reporting laser incidents, laser statistics, FAA press releases and FAA and industry research on the dangers these laser events pose to pilots. The site even includes downloadable videos.
Now, this is definitely a good thing, but will it really do anything to decrease the number of incidents? Initially, I think it will make the numbers continue to increase, easier reporting means more incidents brought to the attention of the FAA. It won't necessarily mean there were more actual incidents, just more reported to be included in the stats.
I forwarded the article to the ORD Airport Watch group as well, so they know how to report anything they may see. Who better to spot and report something like this than airplane spotters in and around the areas/villages surrounding the airport?! In cooperation with the Bensenville Police and area municipalites the ORD Airport Watch has already been a great addition to anti-crime in the area and provides a way for airplane geeks like myself to enjoy watching and photographing planes without the hassle that used to come from the police.
Now, with an easy way to notify the FAA, we can easily report any suspicious activity or incidents that appear to involve lasers and airplanes. I've been 'lazed' on the ground once, while at a supermarket by a bunch of kids in the parking lot, and I will vouch that it really was uncomfortable and definitely effected my eyesight for at least 5 minutes.
That's the main issue though here is that I think the majority of these incidents are just that, KIDS. These laser pointers are easy to get, and the more powerful ones are getting cheaper. I will bet that the majority of these kids don't really realize just how dangerous their actions are! It will eventually lead to an incident/accident and, I'm sure they won't be prepared for the onslaught of criminal charges and civil lawsuits that they'd face.
I think it may be time to not only get the mainstream media to focus more on the dangers of the laser incidents (not just that they're occuring) but also look at having the aviation organizations like AOPA, EAA, ALPA, the airlines, etc. come together and get something into the schools to bring the actual dangers forth. It won't stop it, but I'm sure it will lead to a decrease in some of the events at least.