A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: FAA data shows lower numbers for 2015 and other years

The number of laser illuminations of aircraft reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2015 dropped from the 7,703 initially reported at the end of 2015, to 7,346 based on new information from FAA. This decline of 4.6% appears to be due to FAA recalculating or reanalyzing the 2015 data.

The original, higher figure came from the December 31 2015 FAA Laser Report. This spreadsheet of laser incidents had 7,703 rows with each row listing one laser illumination report.

In January 2016, researcher Dr. Todd Curtis cleaned up the list and found 7,676 valid reports. (The clean-up criteria is not known.)

The FAA's new, lower number of 7,346 reports was first noticed by LaserPointerSafety.com in an April 10 2019 fact sheet released by FAA. The agency has a separate page with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets listing reported laser incidents for 2010 through 2018. The spreadsheet now online for 2015 has only 7,346 reports — not the 7,703 reports of the original December 31 2015 FAA spreadsheet.

LaserPointerSafety.com has analyzed some of the dropped reports. A few may be duplicates, but many appear to be valid reports dropped for an unknown reason.

LaserPointerSafety.com believes that the original 7,703 figure is closer to the actual number of laser illumination reports submitted by pilots in 2015. However, for consistency, as of May 5 2019, LaserPointerSafety.com is using the new April 2019 FAA numbers on various pages such as the Laser/aircraft incident statistics page.

Note that there may be some website pages and some articles, scientific papers, etc. outside of the website which reference the original, pre-April 2019 numbers.

Changed numbers also for 2007, 2008, 2016 and 2017

The number of laser incidents reported in other years has also changed:

  • 2007 was originally listed as having 639 reports; in April 2019 FAA said there were 590 reports.
  • 2008 was originally listed as having 949 reports; in April 2019 FAA said there were 913 reports.
  • 2016 was originally listed as having 7,442 reports; in April 2019 FAA said there were 7,398 reports.
  • 2017 was originally listed as having 6,753 reports; in April 2019 FAA said there were 6,754 reports.