The Columbus Dispatch

FAA warns not to aim laser displays at sky

- Marina Pitofsky

“A pilot can face temporary

Santa Claus approves of most Christmas decoration­s, but he’s warning not to aim laser-light displays at the sky during the holiday season, according to the Federal Aviation Administra­tion.

Instead, people with the light displays should aim the decoration­s at their house, the FAA confirmed in a news release.

“You might not realize this, but a well-meaning attempt to spread holiday cheer has the potential to create a serious safety risk to pilots and passengers on airplanes that fly overhead,” the FAA said, noting that “the extremely concentrat­ed beams of laser lights reach much farther than you might realize.”

FAA Administra­tor and pilot Steve Dickson told USA TODAY “many highpowere­d lasers can incapacita­te pilots flying aircraft that may be carrying hundreds of passengers and crewmember­s.”

“A pilot can face temporary blindness or suffer an eye injury that could

blindness or suffer an eye injury that could be permanent.”

be permanent,” Dickson added.

Officials will contact individual­s if they “become aware that your laserlight display affects pilots,” the FAA confirmed. The FAA also “works with federal state and local law enforcemen­t agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individual­s who purposeful­ly aim a laser at an aircraft,” including civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation.

As of Nov. 22, the FAA has received 8,550 laser strike reports for 2021, up from 6,852 in 2020.

In 2015, the popular lights prompted an emergency response after a Coast Guard plane reported a laser light being shined at it.

Steve Dickson, FAA administra­tor and pilot

 ?? PROVIDED BY CHRIS BIRKETT ?? Snow doesn’t often fall in Scottsdale, Ariz., but it does at Chris Birkett’s house as part of his holiday light show featuring 250,000 lights.
PROVIDED BY CHRIS BIRKETT Snow doesn’t often fall in Scottsdale, Ariz., but it does at Chris Birkett’s house as part of his holiday light show featuring 250,000 lights.

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