Feds, pilots warn of lasers pointed into cockpits

February 11, 2014
Los Angeles Police Air Support Division helicopter pilots listen to law enforcement agents, as they announce a 60-day FBI campaign, "Don't Let a Prank Lead to Prison, Aiming a Laser at an Aircraft is a Federal Crime,'' to publicize the problem of pointing lasers to aircraft, during a news conference at the Los Angeles International airport Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The FBI announced today that it will offer rewards up to $10,000 for people who report others for shining laser pointers at aircraft. A handheld laser can temporarily blind pilots who sometimes need to depend on their vision for orientation. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Airline pilots and federal officials launched a campaign Monday to warn about the dangers of people pointing lasers into cockpits. They're promising prosecution for those who are caught, and a reward for those who turn them in.

While the powerful beams of light do not harm the aircraft, they can temporarily blind pilots, some of whom had to hand over control to a co-pilot.

The number of reported incidents nationwide increased from about 2,800 in 2010 to nearly 4,000 last year, according to data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA attributed the increase to more reporting by pilots as well as the availability of stronger lasers that can reach higher altitudes.

Portland, Ore., had the most reported instances, with 139. The rest of the top 10: Houston; Phoenix; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Chicago; New York; Honolulu; and Miami.

No laser incident has resulted in a crash, but officials emphasized Monday that the threat is real. The FBI plans to offer a $10,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.

"We applaud the FBI for recognizing how serious this situation is," said Capt. Sean Cassidy, first of the Airline Pilots Association.

The FAA said that over the past two years, it has investigated 152 laser incidents, resulting in 96 "enforcement actions."

Explore further: FAA warns pilots in Las Vegas vicinity on GPS

Related Stories

Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

August 30, 2011

(AP) -- Safety and industry officials worry that there will be more deadly airline accidents traced to pilots who have lost their hands-on instincts as planes become ever more reliant on automation to navigate crowded skies.

Foreign airlines urged to use GPS at San Francisco (Update)

July 29, 2013

U.S. aviation officials have advised all foreign airlines to use a GPS system instead of visual reckoning and cockpit instruments when landing at San Francisco International Airport in the wake of the deadly Asiana Airlines ...

Recommended for you

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.