House Passes ALPA-Endorsed Laser Legislation

On July 27, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2010 (H.R. 5810). Sponsored by Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA), H.R. 5810 would amend Title 18 of the United States Code to establish “criminal penalties for knowingly aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or its flight path,” ranging from a fine to up to five years in prison.

Since the widely reported Teterboro, N.J., lasing incident in late 2004 resulted in the first federal criminal prosecution of laser pointing under the USA PATRIOT Act, ALPA has increasingly called for federal legislation to address the rapidly growing laser-illumination threat to aviation.

The ALPA National Security Committee (NSC) has led ALPA’s efforts in coordination with the FBI, the TSA Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network (ALEAN), and numerous state, local, and airport law enforcement organizations, including the National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF).

On July 27, ALPA president Capt. John Prater sent a letter supporting the legislation to Rep. Lungren. The congressman quoted extensively from the ALPA letter during his remarks on the floor of the House, summarizing ALPA’s support: “We urge Congress to expeditiously pass this legislation and thereby enhance the safety and security of all commercial airline passengers and crewmembers.”

ALPA recognizes that pointing lasers at aircraft is a serious threat to aviation safety and security, and will continue to support legislative action, including a Senate companion to this measure, until this legislation is signed into law. Click here to read Air Line Pilot magazine coverage.