Shining laser pointers towards airplanes will land you in jail now

It is well known that shining laser pointers towards airplanes can be dangerous to the flights.

FAA reported 3,894 laser events nationwide – and pilots have already experienced more than 2,750 laser incidents last year. So this is a major problem near major airports as most of these incidents occur near airports.

Laser pointers were introduced as a toy in 1990s. They were a worldwide hit. Toy owners like to point the laser pointers on various items – other people, animals, vehicles and vegetation. An inventor even patented a method of exercising a cat using a laser pointer.


The laser pointer attacks may cause harm to pilots and, in some cases to, aircraft. For example, a high intensity light directed at a pilot cabin may blind pilots and effectively disable them during critical portions of the flight, such as during takeoff and landing. Even a very weak beam can be a distraction for pilots.

This is what pilots see when a laser is pointed towards the cockpit.


Pointing a laser into a cockpit is a federal crime, with a potential five-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. However, law enforcement agencies face challenges while locating where the lasers originated.

Boeing has invented and patented a solution to this problem. Boeing plans to install a ground maneuver camera system on aircrafts. The camera system is configured to detect light source output and associate this output with the relative position of the aircraft to the light source. This information is analyzed together with aircraft location information (at the time of light source detection) to generate a light source location estimate. The estimate is immediately transmitted to a ground based law enforcement unit. The data from multiple aircraft is aggregated to more precisely identify the light source location


The patented system will ensure that sufficient evidence is available to track and investigate each laser attack.
Source: ABC Newsmental_floss

Patent Information
Publication number: US 20160364866
Patent Title: Locating Light Sources Using Aircraft
Publication date: 15 Dec 2016
Filing date: 30 Jul 2014
Inventors: Sampigethaya Radhakrishna G. ;
Original Assignee: The Boeing Company