A spate of recent laser incidents targeting aircraft and pilots are increasing in frequency in the New York area. In the same period year–to-date, reports of lasers directed at aircraft are up 17 percent. Injuries involving the same laser incidents have also increased. Lasers can temporarily or permanently blind a pilot and crew.
The two most recent incidents both occurred on October 15, 2013. The first, at 7:35 p.m., involved Shuttle America flight 5973, when the aircraft cockpit was illuminated by a green laser on the final approach to La Guardia Airport. The laser incident occurred approximately six miles from the runway, at 2,000 feet. The crew reported the laser beam originated about a half-mile west of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
The second incident occurred at 10:37 p.m. A private aircraft reported a green laser two miles southwest of La Guardia Airport while heading eastbound over the Triborough Bridge. The laser originated near the intersection of Broadway and Steinway Street in Queens. Although no injuries were reported in either incident, several commercial pilots earlier this year suffered significant injury, including a burnt retina.
“The FBI is asking anyone with information about any of these dangerous laser incidents to pick up the phone and call us,” said Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. A reward is available for information that leads to the identification, arrest, and conviction of anyone involved in these incidents. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The investigation is being led by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprising more than fifty local, state, and federal agencies.