Home New York Press Releases 2014 Laser Incidents Targeting Aircraft on the Rise Nationwide; Incidents Up 39 Percent in New York Last Year

Laser Incidents Targeting Aircraft on the Rise Nationwide; Incidents Up 39 Percent in New York Last Year
FBI Seeks Public’s Help to Identify Individuals Who Aim Lasers at Aircraft; Up to $10,000 Reward Being Offered

FBI New York February 11, 2014
  • FBI New York Press Office (212) 384-2100

The FBI is offering new reward money for information that leads to the arrest of anyone who aims or has aimed a laser at an aircraft. The new reward is being issued as a result of a dramatic rise in reported laser incidents. Since the FBI began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase nationwide in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with hand-held lasers. Laser incidents in New York were up 39 percent from 2012 to 2013.

In an effort to raise public awareness about the issue, the FBI has launched a targeted regional reward program, which will run for 60 days in 12 FBI field offices. As part of the pilot program, the FBI will offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft.

Many of the New York laser incidents have injured pilots and their crews. The latest injury was reported on December 26, 2013, by a JetBlue pilot on approach to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The JetBlue pilot experienced blurry vision for over a week after being temporarily blinded by a laser.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless acts; this couldn’t be further from the truth. A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot and down an aircraft,” said Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “We are asking anyone who knows anything about the recent spate of incidents to pick up the phone and call the FBI for the safety of all who fly.”

Number of reported laser incidents in the New York area:

  • 2010: 52
  • 2011: 97
  • 2012: 71
  • 2013: 99

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. A reward is available for information that leads to the arrest of anyone involved in these incidents. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The investigation is being led by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, composed of more than 50 local, state, and federal agencies.

- Related FBI.gov Top Story: Protecting Aircraft from Lasers


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