Laser Pointer Airplane Attacks On the Rise: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's a scary statistic: the number of incidents involving people shining laser pointers into airplane cockpits has increased roughly 1,100 per cent since 2005.

That number comes from the United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which recently reported that the number of laser pointer attacks in January 2013 was 346. Meanwhile, throughout the year 2005 there were only 283 of these attacks.

For the FAA, this is a very serious matter. So serious, in fact, that it has established a web site dedicated to outlining the threat such attacks pose to pilots and airline passengers. (Source:

Potential For Crash "Does Exist", FAA Insists

So far, there has never been a case where laser pointers could be directly blamed for a crash. However, the FAA clearly believes a laser pointer could result in a serious accident.

"No accidents have been attributed to the illumination of crewmembers by lasers, but given the sizable number of reports and debilitating effects that can accompany such events, the potential does exist," the FAA notes in a report on the site.

"Sudden exposure to laser radiation during a critical phase of flight, such as on approach to landing or departure, can distract or disorient a pilot and cause temporary visual impairment."

FBI Investigates NYC-Area Attacks

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is said to be looking into a slew of laser pointer attacks affecting three airports in the New York City area.

According to the FBI, the number of reported incidents in this part of the country has increased 17 per cent in the past year alone.

In fact, the FAA says there were two laser pointer incidents in the New York area in recent weeks.

"The cockpit of a Shuttle America flight was illuminated by a green laser on its final approach to LaGuardia Airport at 7:30 p.m. about six miles from the runway," CBS News recently reported.

"Later that night, about 10:30 p.m., a private aircraft reported a green laser two miles southwest of LaGuardia Airport." (Source:

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