Odds are, you have held a laser pointer before. Most people have, in fact, because they are seemingly harmless devices that are incredibly easy to obtain. In the last decade, however, lasers have become a growing threat to both the commercial and general aviation community, and authorities are finally cracking down and treating laser-related incidents with aircraft as serious crimes.
Just last month, an Omaha court upheld a two-year prison sentence for a man accused of aiming a laser at a commercial airliner, after the man contested that he did not think that the laser would reach the aircraft. The judge deemed this a poor excuse, citing that federal law does not require proof of intent when prosecuting laser-related aviation incidents.
While this has commonly been a problem in the commercial aviation industry, with incidents involving larger aircraft gaining media attention, more recently general aviation has seen an uptick in laser events, causing authorities to crack down even more intently on violators. Recently, a law enforcement aircraft was the target of a laser event, and the man responsible was arrested shortly after. He was charged with a 3rd degree felony, and bond was set at $3000. A small training aircraft with American Flyers in Palm Beach was also the target of a laser event, but a suspect has not been found.
Shining a laser at any aircraft is a 3rd degree felony, but if it results in injury it is considered a 2nd degree felony. If the aircraft crashes, the party responsible would be charged with a 1st degree felony. Lasers can cause serious injuries to pilots’ eyes, and will often disorient crew members. If you have been the target of a laser event while flying, you must immediately inform air traffic controllers, who will alert the authorities. If you have suffered injuries as the result of a laser incident, contact the Phoenix aviation accident attorneys of Curry, Pearson & Wooten today.