FBI Launches National Campaign to Address Laser Threat to Aircraft
The FBI announced today a national campaign to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft, a federal violation that presents danger to pilots, passengers, and those on the ground. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at aircraft. The reward is available for 90 days in all 56 FBI field offices.
Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, data shows a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers.
The FBI in New York continues to see a disturbing number of laser incidents. Many have injured pilots and their crews. The latest incident was reported May 23, 2014, by a Shuttle America pilot on approach to La Guardia Airport. The Shuttle America’s cockpit was illuminated four times by a powerful green laser at 5,000 feet. The beam originated from a residential area approximately eight miles south of La Guardia.
“A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot,” 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.”
The number of reported laser incidents in the New York area:
- 2010: 52
- 2011: 97
- 2012: 71
- 2013: 99
The dramatic increase in reported laser attacks in recent years prompted the FBI to create a pilot program aimed at raising awareness and offering a monetary reward in 12 field offices. Since the launch of the pilot program on February 11, 2014, the major metropolitan areas of those 12 field offices have seen a 19-percent decrease in the number of reported incidents.
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.