Blinded by the Light

A Look at Cockpit Laser Illumination Events

Graphic showing green lasers.

Lasers 101

If you encounter a laser illumination event during flight, remember to Aviate, Navigate and Communicate.

Launch of the Lasers

Photo of a pilot blinded by the light.

Operational Concerns Put to the Test

Photo of a laser beam into a cockpit.
  • Flash blindness — A temporary visual interference effect that persists after being “lased,” similar to a bright camera flash.
  • Afterimage — A distracting shadow image left in the visual field after exposure to a bright light that can last for several minutes.
  • Glare — An object in a person’s field of vision being obscured due to a bright light source near the same line of sight.

Laser Strikes on the Rise

  • Have better reporting
  • Reinstate a multi-agency working group
  • Determine the best information that helps lead to finding and prosecuting offenders
The FAA’s new visualization tool ( shows laser strike data from 2010 to 2022 and highlights trends by geographic area, per capita data, time of day and year.

The Laser Arm of the Law

  • Event time in UTC, general positional information (e.g., location and altitude); and
  • General description of event (e.g., color, intensity, and direction of beam).

Pointers — What if I Get “Lased?”

  • ANC — Remember to Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate in that order.
  • Alert a crewmember — If you’re flying with another pilot, advise him or her of the laser and determine if the other pilot is safe to assume control of the aircraft.
  • Interrupt the light — Use a clipboard, visor, or your hand to block the light if possible. Sometimes you can maneuver and use the aircraft to block the light.
  • Turn up the cockpit lights — Light-adapted eyes are less prone to the effects of a laser.
  • Advise ATC or broadcast on the appropriate frequency — Include your aircraft call sign and type; altitude and heading; the color, direction, and location of the laser; the length of exposure; and any injuries sustained. After landing, complete a laser incident report online.
  • Resist the urge to rub your eyes — This can irritate the eyes more and cause tearing or a corneal abrasion.
  • If you are concerned or if you feel you have suffered any eye damage, have your eyes examined.

Laser Safety

Learn More

Breaking the Law …

How Do I Report a Laser Incident?

QR code.
Report a Laser Incident
This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.



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Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. Part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).