12 Flights Hit With Lasers After Record Year of Pointers Aimed at Planes

Following a record year for the number of planes hit with lasers, 12 flights were targeted by laser pointers at one airport on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Newsweek that from 6:18 p.m. to 8:22 p.m. local time, 12 different pilots reported being hit by green lasers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington. The FAA calls laser strikes a "serious safety threat."

The number of flights hit in one day on Tuesday comes shortly after the FAA announced that 2021 saw a record number of laser strikes against flights. In addition to the record number, over the past several weeks, numerous flights at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have reported similar incidents.

The FAA provided a list of the flights that reported laser strikes on Tuesday, which can be seen below.

  • Delta Air Lines Flight 680, a Boeing B739 at 1,400 feet altitude approximately three miles north-northwest of the airport
  • Southwest Airlines Flight 1668, Boeing B737 at 2,200 feet altitude approximately six miles north-northwest of the airport
  • Alaska Airlines Flight 792, a Boeing B739 at 800 feet altitude approximately one mile from the airport
  • Alaska Airlines Flight 3, a Boeing B738 at 1,500 feet altitude three miles from the airport
  • Sky West Airlines Flight 3593, an Embraer E75L at 2,000 feet altitude approximately four miles south-southeast of the airport
  • Alaska Airlines Flight 64, a Boeing B737 at 1,600 feet altitude approximately three miles south-southeast of the airport
  • Alaska Airlines Flight 1430, a Boeing B739 at 15,500 feet altitude approximately 34 miles south of the airport
  • Delta Air Lines Flight 452, a Boeing B752 at 1,600 feet altitude approximately two and a half-mile southeast of the airport
  • Sky West Airlines Flight 3516, an Embraer E75L at 800 feet altitude approximately one mile north-northwest of the airport
  • Alaska Airlines Flight 126, a Boeing B738 at 900 feet altitude approximately one mile south-southeast of the airport
  • Horizon Airlines Flight 2223, a De Havilland DH8D at 800 feet altitude approximately one mile north-northwest of the airport
  • Horizon Airlines Flight 2084, an Embraer E75L at 800 feet altitude approximately one mile north-northwest of the airport.

"No injuries were reported. The FAA notified local authorities and will investigate," the FAA spokesperson told Newsweek.

Prior to the 12 incidents reported on Tuesday, over 30 other flights were hit by laser strikes at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport since the start of 2022.

According to King 5 News in Seattle, on February 7, over 11 flights were targeted by laser pointers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and another six were hit a few days later. On January 28, at least four flights reported similar instances at the same airport, according to King 5 News.

In a press release earlier this month, the FAA announced that there were 9,723 lasers aimed at pilots in 2021, the most the agency has ever seen and a 41 percent increase from the previous year.

"Shining a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety threat. Many types of high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots, many of whom are flying airplanes with hundreds of passengers," the FAA said. "People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents. The FAA issued $120,000 in fines for laser strikes in 2021. Violators can also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies."

Airplane
Twelve airplanes were hit with laser pointers on Tuesday, which comes after the FAA reported a record breaking year for lasers pointed at planes. Above, a Delta flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport flies nearly empty to JFK on March 15, 2020 near New York City. John Moore/Getty