New Agency Created To Catch Those Who Point Lasers At Aircraft

Lasers are high powered and focused beams of light capable of traveling vast distances, much farther and brighter than ordinary flashlights. Due to this, lasers raise many safety concerns especially those that involve pointing the beam at aircraft. So the FBI has created the LSWGNI, a task force to catch those who commit this crime. So those who point lasers at the sky, it is much more likely you will be caught and fined nowadays for your simple act.

With accounts of lasers pointing at aircraft on the rise – in 2005 only 283 incidents were recorded with 2,363 reports

in 2010 - it is now expected to rise to 3,700 incidents this year, which is over 13x as many as in 2005. So the FBI has decided to form a task force called the Laser Strike Working Group National Initiative to spot and catch these offenders.

Lasers are incredibly bright and powerful making them incredibly dangerous among aircraft. Upon contact with windshields the laser light may scatter around the entirety of a cockpit and can cause a serious accident. Although they are designed to form a small point upon contact with a smooth surface; the laser ‘point’ will expand into a large blotch of light and will hit a much larger area.
A few incidents have been recorded where the pilots suffered eye injuries while landing a passenger plane with more than 130 people onboard. Although blinding (temporarily) and distracted, they still managed to land safely. The man shining the laser was later arrested and charged with a $5,000 fine for injuring the pilots while endangering everybody on the plane. Another incident – more innocent – was a 26 year old man in Winnipeg, Manitoba shined his newly purchased 5mw laser at a helicopter as a test to see how far the laser could travel at the crew aboard the low flying helicopter. At low altitudes such an act can blind the pilots for as long as the laser is being shined. The pilots described that the light bounced around the cockpit, scattering light everywhere. The man was later found and could be easily charged with an $11,000 fine along with jail time. Another man was sentenced to 3 years in jail for the

same act, and any similar act could leave you with 5 years in prison.

Generally those who shine lasers at planes are not likely to get caught, unless there were eyewitnesses or surveillance cameras in the area, plus it is unlikely to catch someone unless they are a repeat offender. However, many helicopters have infra-red cameras that can easily track the origin of the beam and send officers to arrest the offender. Now that there is a newly formed task force dedicated to finding those people, it is of greater importance to warn people not to shine lasers at any kind of aircraft – or really anything that is operated by people – and to be careful when shining the laser directly into the skies. There have been incidents where people were arrested when their laser beam accidentally hits the windshield of a helicopter, with the arrest of the individual following quickly after.

So please be careful when playing with >5mw laser pointers, they are incredibly luminous and are a danger to those flying in the skies. With this new agency up and running, it is also much more likely for you to caught, fined and even sentenced to jail time for your innocent – or malicious – act.


Sources Cited

Andrews, Travis. "TAKEOVER CONTENT HERE." DVICE (Syfy). Dvice, 6 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.

Gonzaga, Shireen. "Instances of Hand-held Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Doubled since 2009 | Human World | EarthSky." Instances of Hand-held Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Doubled since 2009 | Human World | EarthSky. Earth Sky, 15 Mar. 2011. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.

"Feds Offer $5,000 Reward in BWI Laser Incident." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 2 Mar. 2011. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.

"" Laser Pointer Safety. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.

Anderson, Nate. "ArsTechnica." Ars Technica. N.p., 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.



Article Written By GDop26

RIT student

Last updated on 22-07-2016 103 0

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