New ALPA-Supported Laser Law Sends Strong Message

A strong message is being sent to individuals who may consider entertaining themselves by shining lasers at aircraft: doing so can send you to prison. Yesterday, a 19-year-old man from North Hollywood, Calif., was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for shining a laser at a business jet preparing to land at Burbank Airport on March 29, 2012, and at a Pasadena police helicopter that same night. The man was charged under provisions of legislation called the “Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2010,” which was passed by Congress with strong ALPA support.

Signed into law Feb. 14, 2012, the Act makes it a criminal offense to knowingly point a laser at an aircraft or its path, provides for fines of up to $250,000, and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

On March 21, U.S. Asst. Attorney Karen Escobar, who was a featured speaker at ALPA’s laser conference in October 2011, obtained indictments from a federal grand jury in Fresno, Calif., charging three men and a woman for violations of the new law in connection with shining lasers at police helicopters.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California announced the indictments as part of the government’s attempt to deter the threat posed to pilots by hand-held lasers.