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Queens Chronicle

FBI offers reward for laser hit on airplane

Delta pilot temporarily blinded near LGA

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Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 1:01 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.

The FBI is offering a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who temporarily blinded a pilot of a Delta Air Lines jet by shining a laser into the cockpit as the plane was on landing approach to LaGuardia Airport on March 25.

The FBI said the green laser appeared to originate from Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, and was shone into the cockpit twice.

The one pilot suffered flash blindness that “severely disrupted his vision.” He continued to suffer pain in one eye afterward.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers, and we are asking anyone who knows anything to contact us.”

The investigation is being handled by the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, consisting of federal, state and local law enforcement.

The incident is the third in New York skies since Christmas.

On Dec. 26, the pilot of a JetBlue plane was temporarily blinded as he was approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport. The plane landed safely, but the pilot suffered from blurry vision for more than a week afterward.

A similar incident was reported in Jan. 25 when a beam believed to have originated from Staten Island entered the cockpit of a United airliner on its way to LaGuardia and blinded the pilot. He suffered from irritation for several days.

The FBI launched its temporary reward program in 12 cities in February in an effort to combat a growing number of incidents.

Numbers released by the FBI state that New York skies had 99 laser incidents in 2013, in increase of 28 over 2012. There were 97 reported in 2011, nearly doubling the 52 reported in 2010

Anyone with information on any of the above incidents is asked to call the FBI’s New York City offices at (212) 384-1000.

Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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