Pilots Report More Laser Attacks in North Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Lasers have been pointed at airplanes 64 times so far this year in North Texas.

    Pilots are reporting more laser attacks in the skies above above North Texas.

    "Laser attacks on aircraft, and we do call them attacks because they are very dangerous, they're on the increase", says Scott Shankland with the Allied Pilots Association.

    The bright light from a laser can leave pilots momentarily blinded.

    The latest incident occurred just before 10:30pm Tuesday, when American Airlines Flight #657 to Albuquerque was still climbing after taking off from DFW airport. The green laser light filled the cockpit as the MD-80 was about two miles above North Forth Worth.

    "You've got a very dark cockpit and all of a sudden the cockpit is illuminated with a very bright light. it's equivalent to having someone stick a flash camera in front of your face in the dark and set it off" says Shankland. "About 93 percent of the attacks are by green lasers and the problem with green lasers is they are much more powerful they have a far greater range and the wavelength of the green lasers are the ones that can actually cause permanent eye damage."

    Pilots have already reported 2500 incidents nationwide this year -- nearly the same number as all of last year. There have been 64 this year in North Texas alone, and four of them happened just this week.

    "A lot of people like to think of this as a prank or a science experiment to see how far they can shine the laser, but we consider it to be a potential threat to human life," says Lynn Lunsford, the regional spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Many of the events that we have are probably inadvertent, but there have been quite a growing number of events that are clearly on purpose"

    In a written statement, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith emailed "aiming a laser at any aircraft is an extraordinarily dumb thing to do".

    When violators are found, the FAA is cracking down with fines up to $11,000 per incident.