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www.wmfd.com - The FBI says the number of incidents of lasers being pointed at planes and pilots are going up. }}" />

   
 
 
Laser Attacks On Pilots Raising FBI Concerns

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 10/22/2013 The FBI says the number of incidents of lasers being pointed at planes and pilots are going up. The most recent incidents happened last week. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading the investigation and offering a reward for information. Rene Marsh has more. This video from the Federal Aviation Administration shows the blinding glare of a laser aimed at an airplane's cockpit. It's a scenario that's replayed itself thousands of times throughout the country. Listen as a plane is coming in for a landing at New York's JFK Airport last year. "We just got lasered up here. Two green flashes into the cockpit. It caught the first officer's eye." In New York City, the FBI says incidents targeting planes have jumped 17 percent. "We don't have an idea why the increase but there has been a 17 percent increase over last year regarding these incidents so they are concerning to us," says Richard Frankel, an FBI agent. "The laser is not going to physically hurt the airplane but the laser can blind the pilot, at least can temporarily blind the pilot and also just the effect of this startling burst of light into the airplane cockpit," says Steve Wallace, an aviation safety consultant. A dangerous distraction for pilots. According to the FAA, the number of laser incidents is 13 times higher now than previous years. Compare more than 350 incidents in 2006 to more than 3,400 incidents in 2012. And while these lasers have never caused a crash, the blinding light often appears during take-off and touch down. "The worst case scenario is that in the critical phase of flight, a pilot loses control of an airplane and potentially a tragic accident," says Wallace. The most recent incidents happened last week. A commercial plane was coming in for landing at New York's La Guardia Airport when a blinding green laser light illuminated the cockpit. Later that night, a private plane reported a laser two miles southwest of La Guardia. No injuries reported in either case, but earlier this year, several commercial pilots suffered significant injuries, including a burnt retina, according to the FBI, which is leading the investigation. "We need to train pilots better on how to cope with them, we need to train the public on the hazard these things can represent," says Wallace. Experts say part of the reason we may be seeing an increase in these incidents is because the lasers are inexpensive and available online. So far, there's no evidence of a link to terrorism. A law signed last year makes it a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft, and that's why the FBI is leading the investigation.
   
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