Establishes the crimes of directing a laser at an aircraft in the second and first degree; makes such crimes a class A misdemeanor or a class E felony, respectively.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to the offense of directing a laser at an aircraft
PURPOSE: To prohibit the directing the beam of a laser at an aircraft or in its flight path, and provides that such offense will either be a class A misdemeanor or a class E felony.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends the penal law by adding new sections 240.76 and 240.77. New section 240.76 of the penal law creates the crime of directing a laser at an aircraft in the second degree. A person is guilty of such crime when, with the intent to disrupt safe air travel, he or she directs the beam of a laser onto a specific aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or in the immediate vicinity of an aircraft and such beam exceeds the limits set by the FAA for the FAA specified laser flight zone where the aircraft was located: and a pilot in the illuminated aircraft files a laser incident report with the FAA. This bill would also define the term "laser" as any device designed or used to amplify electromagnetic radiation by stimulated emission that emits a beam. This section does not prohibit aiming a laser at an aircraft by an authorized individual in the conduct of research and development or flight test operations conducted by an aircraft manufacturer, the FAA, or any other person authorized by the FAA to conduct such research and development or flight test operations or members or elements of the United States Department of Defense or Homeland Security acting in an official capacity; or an individual in an emergency situation using a laser to attract the attention of an aircraft for bona fide rescue purposes: or an individual whose laser operations have been submitted to and reviewed by the FAA. Directing a laser at an aircraft in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
New section 270.77 of the penal law creates the crime of directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree. A person is guilty of directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree when he or she commits the crime of directing a laser in the second degree and thereby causes a significant change of course or other serious disruption to the safe travel of an aircraft that threatens the physical safety of the aircraft's passengers or crew. Directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree is a class E felony.
JUSTIFICATION: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said there were 2,836 reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft during calendar year 2010. This is over seven incidents every single night, and is 185% greater than 2009's figure of 1,527 reported incidents.
The increase in reports is likely due to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet, higher power levels that enable lasers to hit aircraft at higher altitudes,
increased pilot reporting of laser strikes, and the introduction of green lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.
The use of lasers targeting aircrafts poses serious risks to pilots and their passengers, particularly during critical operations such as landings and takeoffs. At its worst, a strong laser beam flash, akin to a camera flash, could cause temporary loss of vision or reduced night vision. Eye injuries have even been reported by some pilots. One such example occurred on February 20, 2011 when a Southwest Airlines flight with more than 130 people on board was making its final approach to the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. While the plane was at an altitude of about 2,000 feet, someone on the ground aimed a laser at it, sending a bright beam into the cockpit as the pilots were preparing to land. The aircraft arrived safely but the pilot and co-pilot reportedly suffered eye injuries.
To date, no aircraft accidents have been attributed to lasers aimed at cockpits, but anything that interferes with a pilot's ability to do his or her job is a public safety matter that needs to be taken seriously.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: The first of November after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7418--A Cal. No. 1303 IN SENATE May 14, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sens. SANDERS, GRISANTI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes -- commit- tee discharged and said bill committed to the Committee on Rules -- ordered to a third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place in the order of third reading AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to the offense of directing a laser at an aircraft THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The penal law is amended by adding two new sections 240.76 and 240.77 to read as follows: S 240.76 DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE SECOND DEGREE. A PERSON IS GUILTY OF DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE SECOND DEGREE WHEN, WITH INTENT TO DISRUPT SAFE AIR TRAVEL, HE OR SHE DIRECTS THE BEAM OF A LASER: 1. ONTO A SPECIFIC AIRCRAFT INTENDING TO THEREBY DISRUPT OR INTERFERE WITH SUCH AIRCRAFT IN THE SPECIAL AIRCRAFT JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES; OR 2. IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF AN AIRCRAFT IN THE SPECIAL AIRCRAFT JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES, AND: (A) THE CALCULATED OR MEASURED BEAM IRRADIANCE ON THE AIRCRAFT, OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE AIRCRAFT, EXCEEDS LIMITS SET BY THE FAA FOR THE FAA-SPECIFIED LASER FLIGHT ZONE (NORMAL, SENSITIVE, CRITICAL, OR LASER-FREE) WHERE THE AIRCRAFT WAS LOCATED; AND (B) A PILOT IN THE ILLU- MINATED AIRCRAFT FILES A LASER INCIDENT REPORT WITH THE FAA. 3. AS USED IN THIS SECTION: (A) THE TERM "LASER" SHALL MEAN ANY DEVICE DESIGNED OR USED TO AMPLIFY ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION BY STIMULATED EMISSION THAT EMITS A BEAM; AND (B) THE TERM "FAA" SHALL MEAN THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION. 4. THIS SECTION DOES NOT PROHIBIT DIRECTING A LASER BEAM AT AN AIRCRAFT, OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF AN AIRCRAFT, BY: (A) AN AUTHORIZED INDIVIDUAL IN THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOP- MENT OR FLIGHT TEST OPERATIONS CONDUCTED BY AN AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURER,EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD06065-14-4 S. 7418--A 2
THE FAA, OR ANY OTHER PERSON AUTHORIZED BY THE FAA TO CONDUCT SUCH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OR FLIGHT TEST OPERATIONS; OR (B) MEMBERS OR ELEMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OR THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ACTING IN AN OFFICIAL CAPACITY FOR THE PURPOSE OF RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, OPERATIONS, TESTING OR TRAINING; OR (C) AN INDIVIDUAL IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION USING A LASER TO ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF AN AIRCRAFT FOR BONA FIDE RESCUE PURPOSES; OR (D) AN INDIVIDUAL WHOSE LASER OPERATIONS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO AND REVIEWED BY THE FAA, WHEN: (I) THE FAA HAS ISSUED A LETTER NOT OBJECTING TO THE LASER USE; AND (II) THE LASER IS OPERATED IN CONFORMITY WITH THE FAA SUBMISSION. DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IS A CLASS A MISDEMEANOR. S 240.77 DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE FIRST DEGREE. A PERSON IS GUILTY OF DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE FIRST DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE COMMITS THE CRIME OF DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE SECOND DEGREE IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 240.76 OF THIS ARTICLE AND THEREBY CAUSES A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE OF COURSE OR OTHER SERI- OUS DISRUPTION TO THE SAFE TRAVEL OF AN AIRCRAFT THAT THREATENS THE PHYSICAL SAFETY OF THE AIRCRAFT'S PASSENGERS OR CREW. DIRECTING A LASER AT AN AIRCRAFT IN THE FIRST DEGREE IS A CLASS E FELONY. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.