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Slight uptick in laser strikes against pilots flying over Washington state, data show

Laser strikes against pilots increased by several hundred nationwide in 2020, despite an overall decrease in air traffic.

SEATTLE — Laser strikes against pilots nationwide increased last year despite a decrease in air traffic.

Pilots reported 6,852 laser strikes to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2020. In 2019, 6,136 were reported.

A total of 196 laser strikes were reported in Washington state, a 7% increase in reports over 2019 when 183 incidents were reported to the FAA.

Of the reported incidents last year in Washington state, one caused an injury, according to data from the FAA.

Pilots flying into or out of Sea-Tac Airport accounted for 68 reported incidents.

Flights in and out of Everett accounted for 23 incidents. 

Intentionally aiming lasers at an aircraft is a federal offense and can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000. The FAA has imposed civil penalties up to $30,800 against people for multiple incidents.