Incidents of laser devices being aimed at commercial aircraft increased dramatically in 2010, particularly in the Los Angeles area, according to new data from the FAA.
The agency says reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft rose to 2,800 in 2010, which almost doubled the reports from the previous year and is the highest total since the FAA began tracking these incidents in 2005.
The increase could be caused by the greater availability of laser devices on the Internet, higher power levels, increased pilot reporting, and the introduction of green lasers that are easier to see than red lasers.
Los Angeles International Airport had the highest number of laser incidents with 102, and airports in the greater Los Angeles area collectively reported 201. Chicago O’Hare International Airport had 98 reports, with Phoenix and San Jose tying for third place at 80.
The FAA is warning people not to shine lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot's eyes or cause temporary blindness. Pilots are asked to report incidents to controllers straight away, so law enforcement officials can be alerted. Some cities and states have made it illegal to aim lasers at aircraft. Federal charges can also result.