How many ‘laser strikes’ on planes are reported in Kansas each year?

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Pointing a laser at a plane may seem innocent enough, but that’s not the case with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The act of pointing a laser at an aircraft is considered a “serious safety risk” for pilots and a federal crime by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It can also come with steep legal consequences. Aiming a laser at an aircraft can lead to indictments from the DOJ such as in 2018 when a Wichita man was indicted for using a laser against a Kansas Highway Patrol airplane.

“Many high-powered lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and may be carrying hundreds of passengers.”

FAA website statement excerpt

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The FAA routinely works with local, state and federal law enforcement to pursue legal actions against people who commit “laser strikes” against aircraft on purpose. Civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation may be imposed on people who are caught using lasers for this purpose. A steeper civil penalty of up to $30,800 may be used against repeat violators.

Thousands of reports are made each year of laser strikes impacting aircraft overhead nationwide. Each incident is recorded by the FAA which keeps a running list of laser strikes on its website. The year 2023 saw the highest number of laser strikes on record nationally. The total number of reported laser incidents around the country can be found below:

  • 2023 – 13,304

  • 2022 – 9,457

  • 2021 – 9,723

  • 2020 – 6,852

  • 2019 – 6,136

  • 2018 – 5,663

  • 2017 – 6,754

  • 2016 – 7,398

  • 2015 – 7,346

  • 2014 – 3,894

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In the FAA’s most recent report for recorded laser strikes so far this year released in April, a total of 3431 incidents have been recorded nationwide. A breakdown of reported laser strikes that occurred exclusively in the Sunflower State can be found below:

  • 2024 – 40

  • 2023 – 17

  • 2022 – 111

  • 2021 – 104

  • 2020 – 42

  • 2019 – 16

  • 2018 – 28

  • 2017 – 28

  • 2016 – 138

  • 2015 – 29

To learn more about laser strikes and the dangers they pose to airplanes, click here. You can report laser incidents to the FAA by clicking here.

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