The Federal Aviation Administration has released new concerning data pointing to a sharp uptick in dangerous laser strikes against aircraft such as airplanes and helicopters.
The agency reported that 9,723 laser incidents happened in 2021 alone, which is up from 6,853 incidents in 2020. That represents a 41% increase in just one year, making 2021 the year with the highest number of reported incidents ever, the FAA said.
The agency says that these laser strikes remain a "serious threat" to aviation safety and it is against federal law to intentionally point lasers at aircraft.
There have been jail sentences for those who are caught, and law enforcement has tried to offer rewards for information leading to an arrest for persons who have committed such crimes. Civil penalties imposed by the FAA up to $30,800 have been levied for multiple incidents. Fines can go up to $11,000 for breaking anti-laser laws.
The FAA says that at least 244 injuries have been reported since 2010 for laser strike incidents.