Pilots: Lasers Aimed at Planes Increase

Laser reports increase in North Texas, nationwide

By Scott Gordon
|  Thursday, Jan 20, 2011  |  Updated 12:35 AM CDT
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Reports of people pointing lasers at planes increased significantly last year in <a title=North Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday." />

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

Reports of people pointing lasers at planes increased significantly last year in North Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

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Reports of people pointing lasers at planes increased significantly last year in North Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, pilots reported 21 laser incidents in 2010 compared to 17 in 2009.

At Dallas Love Field, the number doubled to eight.

"This is a serious safety issue," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Lasers can distract and harm pilots."

Experts say pilots are often blinded by the light and could lose control.

"You really could cause a crash, no question about it," said aviation consultant Denny Kelly.

Nationwide last year, the FAA reported 2,800 cases of lasers pointed at planes -- double the year before and the highest on record. The agency started tracking such reports in 2005.

The lasers are easy to buy in specialty stores and more powerful than ever. They can reach for miles.

Many of the incidents occur around airports when planes lower their altitude to land. Tracking the exact location of the laser is often difficult, experts said.

Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.

Several people have been arrested around the country but so far none in North Texas.

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