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Posted at 9:04 AM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Why lasers and airplanes don't mix

By Washington Post Editors

The number of incidents where lasers are pointed at airplanes are growing, and the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to raise awareness of the safety issue.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt took up the issue Wednesday morning as a guest on the Fast Lane blog of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Babbitt said there were 283 reported incidents in 2005 but there have been more than 2,200 this year.

"Lasers can distract pilots or temporarily blind a pilot while he or she is taking off or landing an aircraft," Babbitt wrote. "Some of these exposures have required pilots to have to temporarily give up control of an aircraft to their co-pilot or abort a landing. We have also had reports of people shining lasers into air traffic control towers."

Babbitt acknowledged that there are some legitimate reasons for shining lasers into the night sky; laser pointers "are an important tool for astronomers and casual stargazers," he wrote. "But, we just can't stress enough the importance of being careful when you are shining them into the night sky."

Babbitt urged the public to alert law enforcement if they see someone shining lasers at an airplane.

By Washington Post Editors  | December 8, 2010; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Aviation  
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Comments

I don't understand... if someone is pointing a laser UP, how can it shine in a pilot's face when, you know, he has an airplane below him.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | December 8, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand... if someone is pointing a laser UP, how can it shine in a pilot's face when, you know, he has an airplane below him.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity

You can see the ground from airplane windows. So the laser could be anywhere on the ground visible from a cockpit window for it to shine in a pilots face. Not directly below the plane, but along the sides or out in front.
Also, they must be taking about industrial lasers because I seriously doubt any of those handheld laser pointers could ever hit a plane or be of any danger.

Posted by: MarilynManson | December 8, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

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