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I was on approach to Vienna yesterday evening when I observed two 2-second green laser flashes 5 seconds apart from one of the rear passenger windows of the B737 where I was seated being pointed at the aircraft.

I'm wondering if and what I should do since green lasers are dangerous, and I'm convinced the aircraft was being targeted. Should I report this to the relevant authorities? Is it very common or a rare occurrence? The co-pilot didn't seem very bothered about it in any case and he hadn't seen it.


Updates:
20th December 2014: Sent an email to the relevant Austrian authorities. Will see if I get a reply.
22nd December 2014: Sent a report to AustroControl as well.
8th June 2015: No reply to date.

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    $\begingroup$ can you describe the circumstances better? was the 737 also on approach? departing? at altitude? what was the laser pointing at? $\endgroup$ – rbp Dec 20 '14 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure you saw a laser, and not the green flashes of an airport beacon? $\endgroup$ – abelenky Dec 20 '14 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky I was pretty sure that it was when I saw it and even more so after I looked up images online. Checked the approach charts for Vienna, there shouldn't be anything where I was looking. $\endgroup$ – Thunderstrike Dec 20 '14 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Firee Often it is kids, but it doesn't make it any better. Wikipedia has an article dedicated on it and the FBI offers $10,000 for helping to arrest somebody who does it. $\endgroup$ – Thunderstrike Jan 9 '15 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Firee The harm is blinding the pilots while they're trying to fly a final approach. Needless to say, that's a bad thing. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jun 8 '15 at 15:01
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In that case I would definitely report the incidence! It doesn't have to be done by police, but you can give the airport authority a call, that way you don't have to make too much of a big deal about it, and still informed the ones that need to know. They can then advise pilots and keep their eyes open for it. If there is a attack on the airplanes, it is important that it is being reported before it is too late. If not, then you didn't make a big deal out of it and are not in trouble for wasting time and money.

So, a call where you could explain what you have seen and give a opinion is your best bet, if they tell you off then hey, you've tried it!

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, while you are still on the aircraft, you can't call. But you can tell the cabin crew and let them decide whether they want to rely it further. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Dec 21 '14 at 22:07
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The FAA encourages reports of laser incidents. They focus on ground observers and pilots, but I think a passenger report would be useful too.

The Austro Control site does offer reporting forms for various safety purposes, including a "voluntary/simplified" report, which could be a place to start.

As with most reports, nothing will probably happen, but it can help in identifying repeat offenders and keeping statistics. Laser incidents are being taken more and more seriously. The FAA asks pilots to immediately report any incidents to ATC, and when applicable ATC is required to provide a caution every five minutes for 20 minutes and include a warning in ATIS for at least 1 hour. Of course, reports immediately after an incident with accurate position information will be the most useful.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reporting form which I now sent. I only found the contact form which I didn't think would do anything and sent something to some government agency instead. This now seems more of the official channel to go. I thought getting repeat offenders or statistics from it would be most beneficial. $\endgroup$ – Thunderstrike Dec 22 '14 at 18:03
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I would not report it. Most likely the pilots saw it too, and it is their responsibility to report this.

What is necessary is to get the report made in close to real time so the authorities can pinpoint the location. Now, hours even days in arrears, your report would not be useful.

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    $\begingroup$ I told one of the pilots, they had not seen it and didn't seem bothered. I thought that pilots probably don't have time to pay attention to where the pointing is coming from, which I was able to make out. I figured they might do it again from the same location. But of course an immediate report is most useful... $\endgroup$ – Thunderstrike Dec 22 '14 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Great! That in my mind ends your responsibility. $\endgroup$ – Skip Miller Dec 23 '14 at 16:05

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