All is Bright! Learn How Holiday Light Shows Could Put Pilots, People, and Packages at Risk

Vivid outdoor light displays and inflatable characters bring smiles to many during the holidays – but did you know that these high-tech presentations can put pilots, charged with the care of passengers and packages onboard, in danger?

The use of lasers in such displays has increased substantially in recent years, and a high-powered or 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 8,550 reports of laser strikes against aircraft, up from 6,852 in 2020 – and making the highest annual total since 2016!

The “laser strike” that illuminates the inside of an airplane flight deck can cause temporary blindness to the pilots aboard, which puts 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.

ALPA walks you 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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