NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While you’re sitting in your seat during takeoff or landing, your flight’s pilot might be blinded by a laser shining into his or her eyes.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, “lasing” — when someone on the ground shines a laser pointer into the cockpit of a low-flying aircraft — has become a major concern, and the FBI is stepping up efforts to catch the culprits before a plane crashes.READ MORE: NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker Retiring At End Of Year
The most recent incident happened over New York on Tuesday. A pilot was injured when a laser was beamed into his cockpit near Port Jefferson, Long Island.
Nationwide, there were more than 3,900 lasing incidents in 2013 — 99 in the New York City area alone.
Pilot Robert Hamilton said he’s been a victim five times, most recently causing temporary blindness and painful retinal burning for hours.
“To have your vision taken away causes a tremendous amount of distraction and chaos in the flight deck,” Hamilton said.
Data obtained exclusively by CBS 2 and TV 10/55 show the locations where recent lasing incidents originated. Three were beamed from Staten Island. One came from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Another was recorded in the Bronx, just nort of LaGuardia Airport. And three orginated from the Port Washington area of Long Island.READ MORE: 5 Cases Of Omicron Variant Found In New York, Gov. Hochul Says
With three major airports in the region, the danger only deepens. A radar image from FlightAware.com shows how congested airspace is — a reality that requires a pilot’s complete focus.
Lasing is such a big problem that the FBI has created a task force to investigate incidents. Lawmakers recently made the crime a federal felony.
The FBI has rolled out an online and on-air anti-lasing campaign and is now offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrests.
If you have any information about a lasing case, you may make an anonymous tip at 212-384-1000.MORE NEWS: Return Of The Office Holiday Party: Despite Evolving Threat From COVID-19, Companies Say They're Safely Surging Ahead
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