Concerned about laser pointers? Want them used safely?
Welcome to LaserPointerSafety.com. We are an independent resource for users, regulators, pilots, media and others concerned with handheld portable lasers.
While laser pens are useful and fun, they are all too often misused. This website has details about why you should never aim laser pointers at aircraft, as well as news, the latest statistics on aircraft incidents, a FAQ, a video from the FAA and Air Force, how to report incidents, laser safety glasses for pilots, and much more information. Check the menu at left for a complete list of our pages. For the latest updates to the site, see our What’s new page.
A helicopter being deliberately targeted by a laser pointer. The light is a distraction and, if bright enough, can cause temporary flashblindness. A video of the incident is here.
This diagram shows the hazard distances of a 5 mW green laser pointer. Click to enlarge.
This diagram shows various ways to help reduce laser pointer incidents. Click to enlarge.
Laser incident statistics
In the U.S. it is estimated that during 2013, there will be 4,063 reports to the Federal Aviation Administration by pilots who saw or were illuminated by lasers.
This estimate is based on comparing FAA reports from January 1 through October 17 2013 to the same time period in 2012, and then extrapolating the 16.7% increase over the entire year. More information is on the Latest U.S. Statistics page.
The chart below shows similar data, but instead of plotting year-end totals, it plots the number of laser/aircraft incidents for every single day from January 1 2007 through October 17 2013.
This makes it easier to see how incidents increased steadily until a jump in the summer of 2010, and since then have stayed at roughly 9-12 incidents per night. Seasonal variations can also be seen -- laser incidents increase during summer months, then decline through the end of the year.
In the U.K., there were 1,570 laser incidents reported to the Civil Aviation Authority in 2012. This was down 18% compared to the previous year’s total of 1,911 reports, according to the Sunday Express.
A special message for laser pointer usersThere are far too many incidents where airplanes, helicopters, vehicles, athletes and ordinary citizens are harassed by laser pointer beams. It is annoying, at best. It can be unsafe if the beam gets in someone’s eye or if it causes a driver or pilot to be distracted or flashblinded. You personally can get arrested and even jailed.
Plus, laser incidents create a bad image and can lead to laser pointers being banned. This has happened in a number of areas. (In New South Wales, you can be fined for possessing a laser pointer, and you can go to jail for up to 14 years for a laser assault.) There are strong calls in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. to restrict or ban lasers.
It is really simple: NEVER aim a laser beam at an aircraft, a vehicle, or towards strangers. In other words, DON’T ANNOY PEOPLE WITH THE LASER BEAM.
For more specific information about laser pen hazards and safe use, see the various topics in the menu at left. For a quick summary aimed at consumers, check out the FDA’s December 2010 safety notification.