Shining lasers at aircraft cockpits made illegal in Illinois

Shining lasers at aircraft cockpits made illegal in Illinois 1 Aug, 11, Source: HeliHub.com

Illinois legislators have passed state-level law which will make it illegal to target a laser at the cockpit of an aircraft.  The law was recently signed onto the statute books by Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, as one of a package of new laws to fight crime and protect residents across the state, and will become official on 1st January 2012.  The law started its progress through the state legislature as House Bill 167 – sponsored by Rep. Dave Winters (R-Shirland) and Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge).  If a court of law confirms such a misdemeanour, it will be punishable by up to a year in jail. The Chicago area, Illinois’ biggest city, was ranked second in a national poll with no fewer than 98 of “laser incidents” being reported by pilots in 2010.

In May, the FAA ruled that they would impose civil penalties against people shining laser pointers at planes. Violators would be fined $11,000 per violation. Regulations are pending in both the US House of Representatives and US Senate that would make it illegal, and a federal crime, to illuminate airplane cockpits with lasers.  However, this is nowhere nearer the statute books, and Illinois has made the move to bring it in at state level.  Other states are expected to follow suit.

William P Johnson – HeliHub.com US correspondent

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