8900.1 CHG 549

VOLUME 7  Investigation

Indicates new/changed information.

CHAPTER 7  unauthorized laser illumination of aircraft

Section 1  Unauthorized Laser Illumination Incident Reporting and Civil Investigation Process

7-191    GENERAL. This section provides Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laser incident investigation policy, guidance, and procedures in regard to conducting investigations into the unauthorized use of lasers aimed at aircraft.

7-192    BACKGROUND.

A.    Legal Interpretation. On June 1, 2011, the FAA Assistant Chief Counsel for International Law, Legislation, and Regulations (AGC-200) issued a legal interpretation stating the FAA would consider a situation in which a laser beam, aimed at an aircraft by a person who is not on board the aircraft, interferes with a crewmember’s performance of his or her duties aboard the aircraft to be a violation of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, § 91.11. The interpretation would apply equally to the similarly worded provisions of 14 CFR part 121, § 121.580; part 125, § 125.328; and part 135, § 135.120. A copy of this legal interpretation is available on the FAA’s Laser Safety Initiative website at http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/.

B.    The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. On February 14, 2012, the President signed Public Law 112-95, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Section 311 amended Title 18 of the United States Code (18 U.S.C.) § 39 by adding § 39A, which makes it a Federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft.

C.    The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. Public Law 114-190, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, was passed on July 15, 2016. This Act extended the FAA’s authority and funding. Section 2104 of the Act requires the FAA to provide a quarterly report to Congress containing the number of investigations that involve the unauthorized use of lasers aimed at aircraft. The report must also contain the resolution of such incidents. The Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS) reporting instructions specified in this section are intended to aid the FAA in meeting these reporting obligations.

7-193    LASER ILLUMINATION INCIDENT REPORTING AND CIVIL INVESTIGATION PROCESS. When a laser incident occurs, several entities are involved. The following paragraphs outline the complete unauthorized laser illumination incident reporting and civil investigation process, to include the Flight Standards Service’s (AFS) role. It also outlines the protocol for AFS management and aviation safety inspectors (ASI) to follow prior to opening a civil Enforcement Investigation Report (EIR). ASIs should note the following:

    When responding to laser incidents, AFS ASIs shall not conduct searches for persons suspected of pointing a laser at an aircraft and/or crewmember.

    ASIs will follow Volume 14, Compliance and Enforcement, and the current edition of FAA Order 2150.3, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program.

    The FAA is taking swift action against individuals who aim a laser at an aircraft and/or crewmember. ASIs should strive to complete the laser investigation, documentation, and, if required, EIR package within 60 calendar-days.

7-194    REAL-TIME UNAUTHORIZED LASER ILLUMINATION INCIDENT. Pilots are encouraged to report unauthorized laser illumination incidents immediately to the appropriate air traffic control (ATC) facility through aircraft radio communications. The initial report should include:

    Laser illumination location (latitude/longitude or Fixed Radial Distance (FRD), if possible);


    Color of laser beam(s);

    Originating direction and position; and

    Any additional information deemed necessary for ATC, law enforcement, and other governmental action taken to safeguard the safety and efficiency of aviation operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).

A.    AFS Field Office. If an AFS field office receives notification that an unauthorized laser illumination incident is occurring or has just occurred, the office should immediately contact the local, state, or Federal Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) to relay the information, and follow up with a phone call to the Regional Operations Center (ROC). The AFS field office should attempt to contact the nearest ATC facility associated with the reported laser activity.

B.    ATC. An ATC facility that receives a report of an unauthorized laser illumination should immediately report the laser illumination incident in accordance with the current editions of Advisory Circular (AC) 70-2, Reporting of Laser Illumination of Aircraft; and FAA Order JO 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration, to the Domestic Events Network (DEN) and FAA Washington Operations Center (WOC) (AEO‑100) (this is a single report; the facilities are collocated). The DEN will act on such reports in accordance with DEN standard operating procedures (SOP). The WOC distributes the unauthorized laser illumination incident report to:

    The Air Traffic Organization (ATO), Strategic Operations Security Group (AJR);

    The Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety (ASH); and

    The regional Flight Standards division (RFSD) with jurisdiction over the region where the laser incident occurred.


A.    Notification of Incident. After initial notification of an unauthorized laser illumination incident, a laser incident report should be completed as soon as possible utilizing one of the following methods, as appropriate:

1)    Pilots. Pilots complete the FAA Laser Beam Exposure Questionnaire located on the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/safety/report/laserinfo.
2)    Members of the Public. Members of the public who witnessed an unauthorized laser illumination incident should be directed to the FAA’s website for reporting a laser incident at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/safety/report/laserinfo and are encouraged to send an email to LaserReports@faa.gov with the information requested in “The Public” section.

NOTE:  If the pilot or member of the public is unable to access the FAA Laser Safety Initiative website (http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/) or does not have access to a computer, refer them to AC 70-2 for other methods (e.g., fax or phone call) to complete and submit an unauthorized laser illumination report.

3)    ASI/AFS Field Office. An ASI/AFS field office who receives a report directly from a member of the public or law enforcement should send an email to LaserReports@faa.gov and include the following information:

    Name and contact information;

    Date and time the incident was witnessed; and

    Location and description of the incident.

4)    Documentation of Reported Events. The ASI/AFS field office who receives a report directly from the public or law enforcement must create a PTRS record using the following instructions:
a)    Use the activity code 1045, 3045, or 5045 (STAFF/ADMIN/SPECIAL PROJECTS).
b)    Insert “LASER” (without the quotation marks) in the “National Use” block.
c)    In the comments section, record the steps taken to report the laser event.

B.    Civil Investigation. To enable AFS to begin the civil investigation process, all information submitted in Step 3.0 shown in Figure 7-21, Laser Illumination Incident Reporting and Civil Investigation Process Flowchart, will be forwarded to AJR and subsequently disseminated to ASH, who conducts the initial investigation on behalf of the FAA. No action is required by AFS in this step.

1)    Post-laser-incident status inquiries should be directed to the ATO Mission Support Services Division (AJV-4).
2)    ASH will coordinate with the appropriate LEAs to obtain details of the incident.
3)    ASH will work with local, state, and Federal LEAs to identify a possible subject. When a subject is identified and apprehended, ASH will compile information needed for AFS to begin the process and proceed to Step 7.0 in Figure 7-21.
4)    If a subject cannot be identified, no additional action is required by AFS. If a subject can be identified, ASH will prepare a memorandum detailing the incident and the identifying information of the individual involved in the laser incident. The memorandum will be transmitted via secure zip file or other secure means to the geographically responsible RFSD technical support branch manager (AXX-230 or AXX-240) to expedite the investigation.
5)    The geographically responsible RFSD will assign the case to the appropriate AFS field office and record the laser incident report number identified in the ASH memorandum within the comments section of the 1045, 3045, or 5045 PTRS record.
6)    The email received by either RFSD technical branch in Step 7.0 will be forwarded to the appropriate AFS field office assigned to work the case.
7)    The AFS field office ASI assigned to work the civil EIR should contact ASH to obtain any additional information (if needed) from LEAs to support the civil investigation. If criminal enforcement action is pending, there may be limitations on whom the FAA ASI can interview, and subsequent coordination with Regional General Counsel is required. Coordination between the AFS field office and law enforcement should be in accordance with Order 2150.3.
8)    If enforcement action is pursued, the ASI assigned to prepare the EIR must ensure they have a statement from the affected crew that states that the crew was interfered with. If the flightcrew member declines to provide a statement, the ASI can submit the EIR package without it.

C.    Documentation of Actionable Events. If it has been determined that evidence exists to support an enforcement action (or, under limited circumstances, a Compliance Action), the ASI will create an additional PTRS record using the following instructions:

1)    Any previous 1045, 3045, or 5045 PTRS activity records created for the case should remain.
a)    The additional PTRS record, as described in subparagraphs 2)5) below, should be triggered from the previously created 1045, 3045, or 5045 PTRS activity record.
b)    If triggering is not possible, create the additional PTRS record, as described in subparagraphs 2)5) below, and manually enter the record ID of the 1045, 3045, or 5045 activity in the comments section of the additional PTRS record.
2)    Use the activity code corresponding to the action taken. For example, a 1731 activity code would be used for legal enforcement (operations).
3)    Insert “LASER” (without the quotation marks) in the “National Use” block.
4)    In the comments section, the ASI should record pertinent facts relevant to the laser event.
5)    If it is later determined that the action is no longer appropriate (e.g., new evidence reveals that no violation occurred):
a)    Amend the activity code or terminate the PTRS record as described below:

1.    If an enforcement action was initiated, change the activity code to 1735, 3733, or 5733 (INVSTG/ENFRCMNT/NO ACTION).

2.    If a Compliance Action was initiated, close the PTRS record with a “T” in the results code.

b)    Provide explanatory comments.

NOTE:  The recoding/termination instructions above do not apply to any 1045, 3045, or 5045 PTRS activity records associated with the case.

D.    Additional References. Reference material that supports the preparation of a laser EIR package is located in the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) under the “Publications—Other Documents—Laser Investigation References” folder: AGC-300 PPT Laser Interference Investigation, and AFS Laser Item of Proof (IOP) Checklist. Additional laser reference material may be added to this referenced folder in the future.

Figure 7-21.  Laser Illumination Incident Reporting and Civil Investigation Process Flowchart

Figure 7-21. Laser Illumination Incident Reporting and Civil Investigation Process Flowchart

RESERVED. Paragraphs 7-196 through 7-250.