Laser Pilot Program Expands Nationwide
June 5, 2014
The FBI is launching a national reward and public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers associated with aiming laser pointers at aircraft.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI is launching a national reward and public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers associated with aiming laser pointers at aircraft.
I’m Mollie Halpern, and this is FBI, This Week. An up to $10,000 reward will be offered for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft. Robert Hughes, the chief of the Violent Criminal Threat Section, says violators of the federal law can receive up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and an $11,000 civil penalty.
Robert E. Hughes: This is not a joke—this is very serious. It is a crime to point a laser at an airplane. The bottom line is that if you are caught doing that, you’re going to have a severe penalty.
Halpern: The nationwide campaign mirrors a pilot project in a dozen FBI field offices. Since the pilot program began in February, there has been a 19 percent drop in laser strikes in the metropolitan areas of those field offices. Laser strikes could result in the loss of aircraft control and even death. Hughes, also a former helicopter pilot, explains how a narrow beam of light on the ground looks to pilots in the sky.
Hughes: It lights up the entire cockpit. So what that does is it basically takes away your night vision. For lack of a better term, it blinds you.
Halpern: For more information, visit www.fbi.gov.