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  • 37

FBI Announces New Crackdown On Pointing Lasers At Aircraft

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FBI announced a program aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft—a felony punishable by five years in jail—and rewarding those who come forward with information about individuals who engage in this dangerous activity with up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. (www.breaking911.com) More...

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PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 8
Many people would be glad to turn in their laser pointing neighbor (or neighbor's kid) for $10,000.

Many laser-carrying folks don't have an idea of the potential danger of pointing their lasers at a plane. They're just looking for targets. A moving plane passing by send like a great target, when the person is unaware of the danger.

A few highly publicized prosecutions involving a good chunk of jail time will correct the problem of not knowing the danger.

"Jeffery, put that laser away. Don't even think about pointing it at that plane. You don't want to go to jail for a couple of years, over a silly thing like that."

I would imagine, that in most cases, the pointing at planes isn't malicious, despite the reported dangers. Given the ever increasing reports of lasers being pointed at planes, if it is so dangerous, then jail is the only thing that will slow things down.
Bernie20910
Bernie20910 7
It seems to me that the whole problem of lasers and aircraft might have a simple solution. Unlike other light sources, lasers use a very specific frequency to create their beams. In the case of the green lasers that seem to be the primary problem that wavelength is 532 nanometers. It should be possible to engineer a coating that can be placed on the inside of the cockpit glass which would block or deeply attenuate that specific wavelength, without affecting any other portions of the visible light spectrum. If the light can't penetrate the glass then they can point lasers at it all they want and the crew will never see it.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Great idea. I wonder how much they'd raise fares to cover the cost.
captainjman
Jason Feldman 1
I have a powerful laser and goggles against the 532 wavelength, they darken too much - and they discolor everything. It isn't the answer.

I was laser out of newark, and it sucked- transferred controls to FO - I know there are helicopters out there with special sensors for lasers and are able to triangulate the lat long from a laser firing in the vicinity. Most of these a-holes shining lasers at aircraft are dumb and do it from their back yard and it's easy to catch them.

Id love to see some Laser moron getting what he deserves for breaking the law - I just hope someone who wants a new 4k television doesn't decide to turn in someone for not doing anything wrong.... money does weird things.
CaptainFreedom
Good program. It's time to get serious with idiots who see humour in this.
zcolescott
Yeah, well we'll see when push comes to shove how those who are proven guilty are actually prosecuted, sentenced, and fined...
rwb2112
rwb2112 4
This guy got 2 1/2 years for it http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/07/25/man-sentenced-for-aiming-laser-at-police-copter/
CaptainFreedom
Pointing it at the police chopper?...he's a worthy candidate for a Darwin award.
zcolescott
Should've got more...:/
jkl94
Jim Jolley 5
why they aren't being charged with interfering with a flight crew and attempted murder is beyond me, since that is exactly what they are doing in the former and in the latter, they are directly endangering the lives of all on board the aircraft.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 2
Good! The feds need to get serious about this issue. I've had a laser pointed at me during night flight.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 2
Is there an altitude at which you're safe - I mean how far will these things reach? As dangerous and insane as this is, thank goodness there are two sets of eyes on that flight deck. When it happens, can you tell, can you see it - or does your vision go wonky for seemingly no known reason?
captainjman
Jason Feldman 1
My laser is relatively powerful at 500 milliwatt Thats powerful enough to see a beam a mile long. But that isn't the safe distance. If you were at the other end even 5 miles away and I shined it RIGHT into your eye it would hurt.

BUT -

It is hard to actually stoke such a small target, at five miles the shaking of your hands means that even whn you are holding it as still as possible your laser is bouncing all over the place, hundreds of meters in every direction. Sure, you could improve that with say a gyro gimbal for stabilization but even then - it's hard to hit such a small target.... and keep in mind that the "dot" will be several meters wide by that point. Laser pointers use a diode and not a tube. Lasers using tubes of say Argon or Ruby have beams that do not diverge as much.. but diodes are not as good at all.

FOR INSTANCE-

Did you know that NASA placed a reflector on the moon when we flew the Apollo missions and that we shoot a laser at that reflector to measure the distance between the earth and the moon. That laser is strong enough to go the 1/4 million miles each way. No, it's not a thin beam but the directed light is strong enough to get there and reflect back, travel another 1/4 million miles and then through part of the atmosphere .... because it's shot from on top of a mountain it bypasses some of the atmosphere.

CONCLUSION-

Lasers COULD technically be dangerous to all aircraft at all altitudes descending on power / type / stabilization - but the biggest danger is at low altitudes especially while banking. I was lased while departing Newark, while in a left bank turn at approx 700 feel AGL and climbing. The target is low, slow, and with the banking the angle to the pilots eyes are more dangerous. It hurt... bad... i transferred control and saw a big blind mark for at least half an hour. Imagine if that was during landing, or single pilot... heck, I couldn't see anything - not even the autopilot engage switch. It's bad... and If I ever catch a guy lasing an airplane, I won't only get the satisfaction of the reward money... :)

ALSO-

These things are not just dangerous to pilots. This can happen in traffic too. And my laser is pretty powerful at 500 milliwatts but there are lasers up to 5 watts for sale to the public. You could instantly blind someone with that from a long way away. And the beams are infrared so you can't even see where they came from. Imagine there was a serial killer type with one of these on a freeway overpass - it's scary as hell. Should they be illegal? I don't know - maybe above a certain power or wavelength, but I do like freedom - and we have to be careful not to become a police state giving up our freedoms for security. You may not care about lasers, or guns, or knives but what happens when they say cell phones kill to many and outlaw that, or cameras....it's a slippery slope when you ask for too much protection. Still, 5 watts of invisible laser seems like a weapon to me. It will cut through materials - start fires, it's nasty stuff. If your eye got lased - you would be blind for life!!
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
I don't think most people have a clue that pointing a laser at a plane could be very dangerous.

The thinking is that the plane is big and metal. The laser is only a little light. It's not like it's a machine gun or anti-aircraft gun of some sort.

Most people don't have the information about the danger details that many pilots here take for granted that all would know.
jaotoole
James OToole 1
Thanks Jason, very informative. As stated below my laser pointer is less that 5mw. I am told that schools ban them because kids will point them in other's eyes. While reading your post it brought to mind police sniper rifles and the danger these lasers present to eyesight.
txflybyknight
Edward Burris 2
No, Michael Weiss, it is because the US Attorneys in Texas wouldn't prosecute for many years. We (police helicopters) caught several. Those few AUSAs that did prosecute were told they were wasting money. Part of that was because of some technicalities in the US Code. Part was because it wasn't a sexy headline grabber. Part of it was lack of understanding by Government lawyers whose experience only included weak laser pointers in their brief cases for power point presentations. I was one of those cases. Now the US Attorneys are taking it seriously but playing catch up ball.
rwb2112
rwb2112 1
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Authorities-launch-anti-laser-campaign-5225323.php
"San Antonio was one of the 15 worst cities with 50 laser strikes recorded last year — an increase of 47 percent from 2012. Austin had 48 reported incidents" "One of the latest incidents was about two weeks ago, when two juveniles were taken into custody for pointing a laser at a Department of Public Safety helicopter, Bexar County Sheriff Susan Parmerleau said."
bovineone
Jeff Lawson 2
Houston ranks 2nd in the country for laser incidents with 126 reported incidents in 2013 http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news%2Flocal&id=9427731
mwyss789
MICHAEL WYSS 1
Wonder Why? Are Texans just more retarded?? Everybody knows this is dangerous--it's been published all over!! Maybe just belligerent?
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
I bet the lasers at Disneyworld would light up the cockpit.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
Or at Stone Mountain, Georgia.
jaotoole
James OToole 1
I own a 5.5 inch lomg laser pointer that looks like a ballpoint pin. It emits a red beam. Made in China in 2003. Complies with 21 CFR Chapter 1, Subchapter J. Use it as a pointer during a presentation. It is powered by two AAA batteries. It emits 630-680nm. Max Output <5mw, Class IIIa.
Is this the kind of device that causes airplanes problems? Does it have such a long reach? If so, I don't need it that bad considering potential misuse.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
I have a red laser I bought at PetSmart thinking my cat would chase it after I had fun with the cats at the store. He couldn't care less for the thing.

But I did play with it by pointing at cars parked across the street and on house faces a good 250 feet away. I was amazed I could still see the dot that far away. I don't know how far up into the sky it would go.

I've only heard of the green lasers in aircraft incidents and it was a green laser that was pointed at me north of IAH.

If you ever do see a laser being pointed up, notify ATC. They'll be very interested and will call local law enforcement to give them location information.

Here's a story that led to one guy's arrest after he pointed a laser at a police helo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k4C8grAGP4

I think it was last year a lawyer in England lost his law license after he pointed laser at a police helo. All that education and still incredibly stupid.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Don't misuse it.
johncook1
john cook 1
Easy way to make a lot of money.
Starman535
Robert Black 1
What about if a laser pointing person was pointing at a cloud deck, then an aircraft suddenly appears out of the cloud in the laser path. Going to lock up the laser holder because of an unavoidable occurrence? Seems a bit harsh, don't you think?
bovineone
Jeff Lawson 2
what if someone shoots a gun in the air during New Years Eve and the bullet happens to come down and hit someone in the head? it's still an offense either way, just the severity of the crime changes.
fltnsplr
Every time I have observed aircraft appear out of a cloud deck (especially jetliners, but including general aviation as well), their landing lights penetrate the clouds at least several seconds before they themselves are visible. I think that would be apparent to anyone who's out there with a laser – although understanding that would require some intelligence in the first place.

Oh, well...
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
They will pass out some fairly harsh sentences until someone "connected" gets caught. Then watch what happens.
kwu20001
kev wu -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

FBI to reward tips on lasers shined at airplanes

Laser technology has made the tiny beams of concentrated light available to anyone cheaply, sometimes even via your local drugstore. It has also led to a dangerous rise in people pointing them at airplanes, which can temporarily blind a pilot and put the hundreds of people on board at risk, the FBI said Tuesday.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-to-reward-tips-on-lasers-shined-at-airplanes/

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