Orlando Man Pleads Guilty to Aiming a Laser at Airliners Departing from Orlando International Airport
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 16, 2012|
ORLANDO—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that Glenn Stephen Hansen (49, Orlando) pled guilty today to aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
According to court documents, from about January 2012 until March 23, 2012, Hansen, on at least 23 occasions, aimed the beam of a laser at passenger aircraft departing Orlando International Airport. In the charging document, it is alleged that the aiming of the laser at the departing aircraft caused pilots to take evasive maneuvers during takeoff and placed the aircraft in danger during a critical time in flight. For example, according to one pilot allegedly struck by the laser, the ascension of the plane is a delicate process, and blinding the pilot during takeoff distracts the pilot from critical flight duties, thereby placing passengers at great risk.
On February 14, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which modernizes the nation’s aviation system. This act establishes a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or at the flight path of such an aircraft. The statute was enacted in response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams. For more details, please see press release issued by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier today, http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=13555.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.