Incidents involving lasers aimed at aircraft cockpits has
raised concerns over the potential threat to aviation safety and security. While none of these events
has been linked to terrorism, security officials have expressed concern that terrorists may seek to
acquire and use higher powered lasers to, among other things, incapacitate pilots. There is also
concern among aviation safety experts that the ubiquity and low cost of handheld laser devices could
increase the number of incidents where pilots are distracted or temporarily incapacitated during
critical phases of flight. Possible options to mitigate the threat of lasers include restricting the sale
or use of certain laser devices; amending criminal statutes; providing pilots with laser eye protection;
expanding and enforcing laser free zones around airports; and educating the public regarding the
risks of lasers to aviation safety. On December 12, 2005, the House passed H.R. 1400,
a bill that would establish criminal penalties for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or its flight path.
This report will be updated as needed.