FBI Highlights Risks Posed By Laser Strikes Targeting Aircraft
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Local and federal law enforcement agencies Tuesday offered up to $10,000 in reward money for information on anyone who aims a laser pointer at the cockpits of incoming airliners.
KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports officials with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Airport Police Division, and the Los Angeles and Orange County sheriff’s departments were joined by members of the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration for a news conference at LAX.
About a dozen FBI offices will participate in a 60-day public information campaign aimed at informing residents that it is a crime to point any laser device at an aircraft, law enforcement officials said.
Pilots from the LAPD, LASD, and the Glendale Police Department were also on hand to answer questions about potential flying risks posed by laser pointers.
Glendale police Lt. Steve Robertson said he has been struck with a very powerful laser that burned both of the corneas in his eyes while piloting a police helicopter.
“A lot of folks will argue that, ‘Well, a simple laser strike, that’s not gonna bring the aircraft down,'” said Robertson. “You have to take it beyond that simple laser strike; it’s that chain of events.”
Chief Ted Sexton, director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of Homeland Security, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the lasers can actually kill the photo receptors in your eyes and lead to disaster.
“Flying a helicopter, especially, is like trying to balance plates while you’re riding a unicycle on a basketball,” Sexton said. “So you need all your facilities, you need to be able to concentrate, and of course losing your eyesight is not a good thing.”
Federal officials told the Los Angeles Times they have seen an estimated 1,100 percent jump in the number of incidents involving aircraft pilots who report laser flashes while flying.
While less than 300 incidents were reported in 2005, there were upward of 3,700 incidents logged in 2013, the Times reported.
Under California law, any person who deliberately points a laser at an occupied aircraft, whether in motion or in flight, faces one year in jail and a $1,000 fine or more.