Entries in Lasers (4)


Pilots Warn of a Growing Danger in the Skies

Getty(WASHINGTON) -- Airlines pilots and the government have sounded the alarm over a growing and dangerous problem: hand-held lasers aimed from the ground right at the cockpits of airplanes.

The numbers are staggering. Through Oct. 20, there have been 2,795 reports of lasers pointed at helicopters, small planes and commercial jets this year. That pace means 2011 could break last year’s record of 2,836 laser strikes.

“Over the last few years, the reported incidents of lazing have doubled and doubled and doubled again,” said Sean Cassidy, vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “They’re not toys when they’re getting shined against an airplane; they’re very, very dangerous.”

At the very least, a bright laser suddenly lighting up a cockpit can distract a pilot.

At the worst, it can damage their eyes, temporarily blinding them. This can be especially hazardous during takeoffs and landings. There have been cases where pilots have had to go around for another landing attempt or hand off the controls to their co-pilots.

Luckily, no accidents have been blamed on laser incidents, but pilots worry that could happen.
Officials believe the increasing number of incidents can be traced to the easy accessibility of high-powered lasers, which have come down substantially in price and can be purchased online.

The cities with the most reported incidents this year are Phoenix, followed by Philadelphia and Chicago.
This summer the Federal Aviation Administration enacted fines of $11,000 for laser incidents, and there’s a move in Congress to make it a federal crime. Some states already can prosecute those who shine lasers at aircraft.

Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it is starting a new website to make it easier for pilots to report laser incidents. Those who’ve studied the problem say some of the laser incidents are intentional, while others are not.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


People Pointing Lasers at Planes Will be Subject to Federal Penalties

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pointing Lasers at Aircraft May Soon Be Illegal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has passed an amendment that could make pointing lasers at aircraft a federal crime.

Lawmakers on Thursday voted 96-1 to pass the amendment introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, aimed at cracking down on individuals who engage in such activity. A growing number of pilots have reported lasers directed at their cockpits during takeoff and landing. They fear the lasers could temporarily blind them and pose harm to those on board.

“Shining lasers at airplanes is not a game and places passengers and crew at risk,” Whitehouse said. “With the increasing occurrence of these types of incidents, prosecutors must have strong tools to punish and deter this dangerous conduct.”

Should the amendment make it into law, it will be a crime to knowingly point a laser at an aircraft, punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill exempts those using lasers for legitimate aviation purposes.

The Federal Aviation Administration says over 2,800 reports were filed about lasers being pointed at aircraft in 2010, almost double the amount of reports received the previous year. In 2010, Los Angeles International Airport had a national high 102 laser incidents, while Theodore Francis Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., had the least amount of reports with 12.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blinded by the Light: FAA Warns Pilots of Laser Dangers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating a rash of incidents where lasers have been aimed at airline cockpits, possibly jeopardizing air travel safety.

About a dozen pilots filed reports last week saying someone aimed green laser lights at their cockpits while they tried to land at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

"The Federal Aviation Administration takes laser incidents very seriously because of the potential safety hazards they pose," Jim Peters, an FAA Spokesman, said in a statement to ABC News New York affiliate WABC.

At Newark Liberty Airport, there have been 17 reported laser incidents involving planes landing from the north within the past week, WABC reported.

Some pilots have reported blurred vision and damage to the retina.  The powerful laser beam can hit a target miles away and can also burn though thick plastic.

Shining a laser at an airplane is a violation of federal law.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio