Both the federal authorities and local governments are warning that a number of commercial aircraft have recently been targeted by lasers from the ground. In the latest incident, a laser beam coming from a Dallas neighborhood hit three planes as they were approaching for landing on Wednesday evening. This latest laser attack heightens worries by officials who note this dangerous practice can distract or even temporarily blind pilots.
More on laser attack on aircraft in Dallas
The laser attack on Wednesday originated from an area 11 miles southeast of Dallas, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford. A law enforcement helicopter was sent to the area, but no suspects were identified or arrests made in the incident.
Lunsord continued to say that the laser was directed at a Southwest Airlines passenger aircraft, a Virgin America plane, and a private business jet that were all in final approach to land at Dallas Love Field. All of the the planes were at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 feet when the laser attack was made.
Arrest for pointing a laser at a helicopter in New York Wednesday
In a separate incident, police in New York City have arrested a suspect who pointed a laser at an NBC news helicopter over Brooklyn on Wednesday. A reporter on board the helicopter used a camera to zoom in and identify two suspects who were seen behind a building in Prospect Heights.
NYPD later took two people into custody and made one arrest.
Using laser pointers on aircraft in midair has been steadily increasing since the feds started keeping statistics in 2005. The FAA announced a week ago that the agency had received 5,148 reports of “lasing” between January 1st and October 9th of this year. At the current rate, there will be a total of 6,850 laser and flying aircraft incidents, a frightening 176% increase from last year.
Of note, pointing lasers at flying aircraft first became a federal crime in 2012. Violators could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as to civil penalties up to $11,000 for each violation.
The FBI launched a public information campaign about “lasing” late last year, and offered a $10,000 reward for those who report violators in an effort to stop the dangerous new trend of aiming lasers at airplanes.