Florida ranks 3rd in country for laser strikes on aircraft

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida ranks third in the country this year so far for laser strikes on aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to FAA data, there have been 434 laser strikes in Florida as of Sept. 30, placing the state third in the country behind California with 1,167 and Texas with 605.

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Pilots reported more than 130 laser strikes on aircraft to the FAA over the weekend of Oct. 1 to 3.

People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents.

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“Pointing a laser at an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot and not only affects the crew but endangers passengers and the communities they fly over every night,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in a news release.

Officials said laser strikes increased in 2020 despite the decrease in flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pilots reported 6,852 laser strikes to the FAA last year, up from 6,136 in 2019.

READ: Man accused of shining laser light at Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter pilot

The number of incidents reported in 2020 was the highest annual total since 2016.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.