Blinding • Planes land safely, police seek culprit.
BY LEE DAVIDSON THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE PUBLISHED: AUGUST 18, 2014 09:45AM
Three aircraft approaching Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday evening were targeted with a laser pointer from the ground, which could have potentially blinded the pilots.
“The airplanes landed without incident and there were no injuries,” said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.
“It happened between 8 and 8:15 p.m. with a green laser beam,” she said. “It occurred about 6 miles south of the airport.” Gann added that because of the location, Unified Police are investigating.
Pilots who have suffered similar attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night, disorienting and temporarily blinding them.
Congress in 2012 passed a law making it a federal felony to knowingly point the beam of a laser at an aircraft.
Earlier this summer, the FBI launched a national campaign against the practice, including offering rewards of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who conduct such attacks.
“Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law,” said Joe Campbell, assistant FBI director of its Criminal Investigative Division, when the campaign launched.
Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking laser strikes in 2005, they have increased twelvefold. Last year, 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft were reported nationally.
As of last December, the FAA had documented at least 35 incidents where pilots required medical attention after a laser strike.
“I can’t stress enough how dangerous and irresponsible it is to point a laser at an aircraft,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said when the FBI launched its campaign against the practice.
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