Dazzling Holiday Displays Can Put Flights in Danger

Every year, millions of Americans decorate with outdoor lights and inflatable characters. With each passing year, these displays become more complex and integrate new technologies, particularly an increase in high-powered LEDs and lasers. But did you know that these dazzling light shows can put pilots—who are charged with the care of passengers and packages onboard their planes—in danger?

A poorly aimed laser beam can hit a pilot's line of sight on the flightdeck during a critical phase of flight—takeoff or landing. This year alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received 7,863 reports of laser strikes against aircraft, up from 7,743 during the same period in 2021. 

The “laser strike” that illuminates the inside of an airplane’s flightdeck can cause temporary blindness to the pilots aboard, putting the flight in danger. Some pilots who suffer laser strikes have long-term vision impairments, leaving them unable to work.

If you’re a pilot who gets lased this holiday season, follow these steps.

This resource walks pilots through how to mitigate a laser hit on the flightdeck, reporting to air traffic control and follow up actions after you land safely.

As you deck the halls this holiday season, remember your airline pilots and keep your lights and lasers pointed at your house, not to the sky. We’ll make sure your family and friends – and all those online purchases and gifts – arrive safe and secure.

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