The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that it received 13,304 incidents of laser strikes against aircraft from pilots last year.
The number shows an increase in incidents by 41 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022.
Shining a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety threat, and many types of high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots, the FAA said.
Pilots have reported 313 injuries since it began recording data on laser strikes in 2010.
The National Business Aviation Association defines a laser strike as “a sudden windscreen-filling flash with no indication of direction”.
If there have been recent laser incidents in the vicinity of the airport where the aircraft is landing or taking off, pilots may receive a general caution warning broadcast from air traffic control.
Michael Whitaker, an FAA administrator, said: “The FAA is committed to maintaining the safest air transportation system in the world.
“Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that puts everyone on the plane and on the ground at risk.
People who shine lasers at aircraft face can fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents.
Those responsible could also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Whitaker added: “Like many crimes, there’s a need for education, outreach and co-operation from the public to address this safety risk.
“We encourage you to report laser strikes to the FAA via our website or to your local law enforcement agency.”
According to the data, a total of 1,392 incidents occurred in December last year across the US, with the daily average in the same month at 36.4.
Meanwhile, 94 per cent of incidents occurred in the morning.
Image credit: Federal Aviation Administration