(WASHINGTON) -- People who unwisely point lasers in the sky could be sent up the river for a long time.
Following the Senate's lead, the House on Monday approved the Securing Cockpits Against Laser Pointers Act, which could mean a maximum penalty of five years in prison if anyone is caught pointing a laser at a plane.
Handheld lasers that shine into cockpits can damage the retinas of pilots and cause them to lose control of the plane. In a number of instances, pilots have had to be relieved of duty because of vision loss.
The problem is also growing rapidly. The Federal Aviation Administration says the number of cases of planes and helicopter getting "lasered" nearly doubled from 1,500 in 2009 to over 2,800 in 2010.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill once both the House and Senate version are rolled into one measure.
Meanwhile, the Airline Pilots Association International is calling for limiting the sale of high-powered portable lasers and expanding airports' laser-free zones.
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