WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Holiday cheer comes in different shapes and sizes, including laser lights that can mimic Christmas lights on a house. However, they can also prove dangerous for pilots if not used properly.
The FAA has sent a warning, as it does yearly, reminding people how to properly use laser lights.
“If you are attempting to put up the Christmas-style one and it’s night time or even during the day, don’t shine it directly up in the sky with it being on,” said William Kirby, air traffic patrolman. “If you are setting it up at your house, make sure its solely at your house and not aiming up in the sky.”
The lights can be blinding and dizzying to pilots up in the sky, putting passengers in danger or forcing a different route.
“If somebody didn’t have the box solely aimed at their house and there were stray lasers pointing in the sky that they might not be aware of, the Swiss cheese model of safety could happen," said Kirby. "Instead of being 8,000, 10,000 feet above the ground at level flight, they might be trying to land or depart from the airport and that could definitely be a safety risk.”
The number of incidents have gone down over the past few years, but the FAA still shows around 5,000 to 7,000 incidents happen a year. This includes a total of 10 since 2017 in Wilmington.
While accidents do happen, doing it intentionally is a federal offense. You can find the FAA rules and regulations, along with safety tips here.