Every year laser pointers get brighter and cheaper, and every year the number of incidents involving some bozo shining one at an aircraft increases. In 2005 there were just 283 reports, but that number has increased every year, hitting an astonishing 2,836 in 2010. So the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has set up a website to make it easier for pilots, and those on the ground, to report when it happens.
Unfortunately the response to these incidents isn’t always as swift and satisfying as what happened to this guy who thought it would be funny to light up a helicopter. So back in June the FAA announced strict civil penalties, including fines of up to $11,000, as a deterrent. But as of October 20th, there’s already been some 2,795 reports this year. So the agency is encouraging even the public to come forward and let them know when a laser has been directed towards an aircraft, which is not only a violation of federal law, but a serious risk to pilots and crew given how needlessly powerful they’ve become. Let’s keep it in the movie theaters where it’s genuinely funny people! [FAA via Network World]