October 21st, 2013
07:32 AM ET

Laser Pointer Attacks on Planes Spark New FBI Probe

Incidents of lasers targeting aircraft and pilots are increasing in frequency in the New York area, the FBI said Friday.

Reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft are up 17% percent from last year, the bureau said. Injuries involving the laser occurrences are also on the rise, the FBI said; lasers can temporarily or permanently blind a pilot and crew.

The most recent incidents happened Tuesday, the FBI said.

The first involved a Shuttle America flight that was on final approach to LaGuardia Airport when a green laser illuminated the cockpit. The second was later that evening when a private aircraft reported a green laser two miles south of LaGuardia.

No injuries were reported in either instance, but earlier this year several commercial pilots suffered significant injuries, including a burnt retina, because of lasers, the FBI said.

"The FBI is asking anyone with information about any of these dangerous laser incidents to pick up the phone and call us," Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said. "Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew."


“Experts say a part of the reason we may be seeing an increase is these incidents is because these lasers are inexpensive and available online," CNN's Rene Marsh reports.

Right now there is 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 would explain why the FBI is now investigating.”

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