It’s that time again. Across the country, people are putting up their Christmas lights, the bigger, the better. In the past few years, low-level laser light displays have become increasing popular. They are inexpensive, festive, and easy to set up.
The problem: a laser light display accidentally aimed too high runs the risk of hitting passing aircraft. You don’t even have to be flying low and slow to chance an encounter with the results of over-enthusiastic decoration. Last year marked the first time the FAA investigated a laser strike – reported by the crew of a Boeing 737 at 13,000 feet – and found a holiday light display to be the cause. That wasn’t the only incident reported last year.
At the moment, the FAA is taking an ask-them-nicely approach with homeowners, recognizing that there is absolutely no intent to harm in too much Christmas sparkle. That said, pilots’ eyes and lasers don’t mix. Failure to comply with an FAA request to adjust the angle on a laser display could lead to hefty fines and possibly even a court date.
Learn more about laser laws and civil penalties from the FAA.