Dangers of the Lasers Strikes
Once considered harmless, laser pointers are now posing a potentially fatal risk for pilots throughout Florida and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported an increase in laser strikes since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. High-powered lasers being shone from the ground at aircraft above have become a threat to aviation safety. The 25% increase is Florida’s highest total in a single year since the FAA began recording laser strike data in 2010. Most laser strikes occur at night during take-off or arrival and are high-powered enough to distract or disorient pilots and can even result in blindness.
Thankfully, there have been no reports of any laser strikes at the Boca Raton Airport, but other airports throughout Florida are dealing with the issue. Miami International Airport and Tampa International Airport reported the highest number of laser device incidents among Florida’s airports in 2021. Closer to home, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reported separate incidents in 2015 and 2018 in which its own helicopter pilots were either disoriented or temporarily blinded by laser light devices.
Under Florida law, anyone who knowingly and willfully shines, points, or focuses the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft is committing a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. If the act results in bodily injury, it would then be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years. Those accused of misusing a laser device may also face federal charges and a fine from the FAA. While lasers can be harmless when used correctly, they should never be aimed at aircraft.