Eleven commercial airline flights were hit by laser beams over Newark Airport in New Jersey Wednesday evening. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that the incidents happened between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Pilots reported laser pointer light illuminating their cockpits as far away as six miles from the actual airport.
One pilot told air traffic control, "Just for your information, there’s someone shooting a laser about four or five miles back off our back wing." The pilot further reported, "They lit us up pretty well."
Another pilot reported, "American 1976 checking in with you, and we just got the laser also..."
No Accidents or Injuries Caused
Fortunately, no injuries or accidents were caused by the dangerous laser light that entered the cabins of these airplanes.
It is a violation of federal law to direct laser light into the cockpit of an aircraft. Individuals convicted of the crime could face up to five years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. Since last January, the FBI has been offering rewards of as much as $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who direct lasers at airplanes.
As laser beams become more accessible and affordable to buy, the FAA reports that more incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft have been occurring. In 2010, 2,200 such incidents were reported. In 2012, it was 3,400. Meanwhile, 2013 saw 3,900 incidents.
In addition to Newark Airport, which experienced 28 laser-pointing events last year, planes at New York City airports also had laser pointing events. Usually they involve green lasers, which are brighter and more blinding than red lasers.
A Childish but Dangerous Prank
It could be that additional media attention to these laser scare incidents is inspiring more people to pull dangerous laser pointing stunts. Unfortunately, pointing laser beams at aircraft is not an innocent prank at all. It is extremely dangerous and could result in aircraft accidents. People who pull such stunts need to be stopped, captured, punished for their crimes and held financially liable for any damages they cause.
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