FBI Begins Campaign to Deter Pointing Lasers at Aircraft

Laser strikes up more than 1,000 percent since 2005, officials say

Photo: FBI.gov
Photo: FBI.gov
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is partnering with state and local agencies in New Jersey on a campaign to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft.

The campaign comes in the wake of statistics that show incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft increased 1,100 percent between 2005 and 2013, as more powerful lasers became easier to purchase, federal officials said in a statement announcing the start of the campaign.

In the past year alone, laser incidents at Newark Liberty International Airport have increase 14 percent.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense that can result in a 20 year jail term and a fine of up to $250,000 plus a civil penalty of $11,000.

The dramatic increase led to the FBI's creation of a pilot program in February in 12 major cities across the country, incorporating a media awareness campaign and rewards for those whose tips lead to the arrest of lawbreakers. In those 12 cities, lasing incidents dropped by 19 percent.

“Although our previous efforts to raise public awareness have shown early signs of success in reducing the number of laser attacks in those 12 cities, the laser threat remains a problem on a much larger scale,” said Joseph Campbell, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in a statement. “We hope to build on our success through this national campaign in an effort to reduce the overall threat.”

The expanded anti-lasing campaign which was announced Tuesday includes a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft, and the expansion of the overall program to 56 FBI field offices, as well as cooperation with more local law enforcement agencies.

Campaign outreach efforts will include digital billboards, radio public service announcements, video, social media, a presence on FBI.gov and partner websites, officials said.

Joseph D. Coronato, the Ocean County prosecutor, echoed the federal agency's concerns Tuesday. Ocean County is home to three airports.

"With three airports within the Ocean County area and laser pointers being so available and popular, law enforcement can use all the help we can get in preventing a tragedy," Coronato said. "Awareness of the danger laser pointers pose to aircraft pilots is tremendously important."

"Intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft poses a serious threat to those in the air and on the ground – and it’s a serious crime with serious consequences," said Air Line Pilots Association International President, Captain Lee Moak.  "The Laser Threat Awareness Campaign has resulted in an overall reduction of incidents, and we look forward to continuing to work with the FBI to bring the reach of these efforts."

Anyone with information about a lasing incident, or who sees someone actively pointing a laser at an aircraft, is being asked to call their local FBI field office of dial 911.

A video showing how laser pointers can affected pilots is available on the FBI's website.
Freight Trains Boogier June 03, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I was recently on an aircraft departing Newark early in the morning. I was listening to the flight desk through the on board entertainment system and our plane was targeted by the green laser as was the aircraft who departed moments before ours. I hope they catch these b*st*rds before people get hurt.
OpticianAndy June 03, 2014 at 12:48 PM
anonymous June 03, 2014 at 01:18 PM


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