FBI Cleveland
Special Agent Vicki D. Anderson
(216) 522-1400
February 5, 2016

Seeking Information Regarding Recent Laser Strikes

Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the Northern District of Ohio, is seeking information regarding recent laser strikes against several commercial airliners landing at the Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

The two most recent laser strikes occurred last evening, Thursday, February 4, and the one prior occurred on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. It appears that the laser strikes originated from an area south of Lorain and 105th. Prior to these laser strikes on December 16, 2015, 25 separate commercial airliners were struck with a laser pointer. On each of these occurrences the pilots have reported that the laser caused them difficulty with concentrating, distracting them and sometimes disorienting them for a brief time during their landing approach to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. It is believed that these 25 laser strikes from December 16, 2015 originated from an area southwest of Clifton Avenue and West 117th Street.

The main hazard for aviation is that pilots can be distracted or temporarily flashblinded by the light from a laser beam. The light often is a large light at aviation distances, unlike the tiny dot a laser makes at close range. Individuals often do not realize that traveling over hundreds of feet a tiny two-centimeter laser beam spreads to become approximately six feet of light that can block a pilot’s vision. Most laser strike incidents reported occur at flights under 10,000 feet with the highest percentage being altitudes under 6,000 feet.

Laser strikes are investigated by local and federal law enforcement. Under 18 USC 39 (A), whoever knowingly aims 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, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned. Under 49 USC Section 46301 (a) (5) (A), the FAA may seek a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 per violation for aiming a laser at an aircraft in violation of C.F.R. Section 91.11.

The FBI and our law enforcement partners are asking the public if they have any knowledge of the laser strike that occurred this past week and/or the 25 laser strikes that occurred on December 16, 2015. If anyone has any information please call the Cleveland Division of the FBI at 216-522-1400. Tips can remain anonymous and reward money is available for the successful identification and prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for these laser strikes.

Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D. Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vicki.anderson@ic.fbi.gov.