Reports of Interference with Laser Lights to Aircraft in Costa Rica Quadrupled in 2023

    AERIS calls for public awareness about the various risks that these actions have for operation and safety

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    At the Juan Santamaría International Airport (AIJS), reports of interference with laser lights grew exponentially during 2023, accumulating 46 cases between January and December of that year, reported AERIS, the interested manager of the main air terminal in Costa Rica.The increase is notable compared to the figure for 2022, when that year the total was 12.

    “A significant increase is observed in the number of incidents reported during December, January and February, since they are periods of the year characterized by a lower presence of cloudiness and rain, which favors the range of the lasers. Likewise, there is also an increase in August,” explained Virginia Valverde, head of Operational Security and Crisis Management, AERIS.

    For this reason, as well as the fact that so far this year there have already been 2 reports, AERIS reminds the population to avoid the use of laser lights directed towards the terminal and aircraft due to the risks that this action implies.

    A very real danger

    For example, the average duration of reported laser impacts is 18 seconds. Only in that exposure time, pilots subsequently experience effects such as reduced visibility, discomfort, lack of concentration and glare, which represent a danger during critical phases of flight such as landing or takeoff.The presence of laser lights near an airport could also lead to confusion for pilots, who may mistakenly interpret the light signals as indicators of the control tower or other air traffic.

    Avoid this risky behavior

    “We call on people who point aircraft with lasers, as this represents a danger to both the people who are on board the aircraft, as well as those on the ground; performing this irresponsible act can cause an accident. Our country benefits from all the tourists who visit us on aircraft, and we would not want the reputation we have to be affected by the irresponsible acts of some people. We extend the call to report this type of behavior,” emphasized Fernando Naranjo, General Director of Civil Aviation.


    In Costa Rica, people who participate in this practice are exposed to sanctions under the General Civil Aviation Law, which includes fines of up to 20 minimum wages, depending on the severity of the infraction.The Costa Rican Aeronautical Regulation RAC02 in section 02.11 establishes the Prohibition of Acts of Unlawful Interference against Crew Members: “No person may assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere in the execution of the duties of a crew member, during the time in which the aircraft is operated.

    Therefore, if you witness a laser light pointing towards an airport or aircraft, you are invited to take immediate and responsible measures to avoid possible risks to air operations. Among them, call 911 and report the exact place where you observed it, as well as provide precise details.

    Optimal response

    The constant analyzes carried out by AERIS, such as the identification of trends such as these incidents usually occur between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., as well as compliance with the established protocol, have been effective so that these events have been attended to before turning into an eventual emergency.

    “AERIS has a protocol that guarantees immediate notification to the Airport Police of any incident of laser interference; This allows for prompt action to be taken to address the situation. In addition, we maintain close collaboration with the Air Surveillance Service, coordinating actions to identify the source of laser interference and ensure the integrity of air operations,” said Juan Belliard, director of Operations and Security at AERIS.

    Simultaneously, AERIS informs the General Directorate of Civil Aviation. This communication contributes to data collection and possible implementation of additional regulatory measures when necessary.

    To avoid accidents, it is also essential that affected pilots immediately notify air traffic control of the situation, describing where the laser came from, the intensity level, the location of the incident, etc. Controllers provide them with instructions such as changes in altitude, route or any other actions necessary to ensure safety.Additionally, it is key for subsequent measures that after the flight, the pilots present a formal report about the incident to the corresponding aviation authorities.

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