FAA Warns Homeowners To Be Careful With Christmas Laser Light Displays

Dec 13, 2018, 8:23 PM | Updated: 9:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Federal Aviation Administration warned homeowners this week to be careful with Christmas laser light displays. If the beams of light project past homes and up into the air, they could temporarily blind pilots.

Reports of laser incidents have been on the rise. Officials with the FAA said there were 6,754 reports in 2017 – a 250 percent increase from when they began tracking reports in 2010.

They said some laser incidents are intentional, from handheld laser pointers, while others are accidental, like in the case of Christmas light displays.

“It’ll reflect and just bounce everywhere. It’ll become just one giant green, or whatever the color is of the laser – just one giant, lit-up room.”

A spokesperson with the Salt Lake International Airport said there have been 12 reported laser incidents from Ogden to Provo since November 1.

Pilots in the area said a laser beam shining into a cockpit can be a serious problem.

“It’s probably happened north of 50 (to) 60 times,” said pilot Chris West.

Night vision is an important factor in night flying. Pilots work to limit their exposure to bright light before flying and use dim, red lights in the cockpit to preserve their night vision.

A sudden flash can undo all that work.

“Your night vision’s trashed, immediately,” West said. “If it hits the windscreen, it has a tendency to kind of reflect on the impurities and scratches in the windscreen. It’ll reflect and just bounce everywhere. It’ll become just one giant green, or whatever the color is of the laser – just one giant, lit-up room.”

That can be especially dangerous if an airplane is in a critical phase of flight, like on final approach.

“You’re responsible for yourself (and) your passengers. When you’re low and slow on approach, you don’t have much room or margin for error,” West said.

The key, the FAA said, was to be sure the colorful lasers are aimed relatively low, only at a house and not into the sky, where they could find their way into cockpits.

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FAA Warns Homeowners To Be Careful With Christmas Laser Light Displays