ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for a federal ban on the sale of high-powered green laser pointers that have been used to injure and disorient airplane pilots around the country.
The New York Democrat said Sunday that he wants federal regulators to stop the sale of the devices, which were linked to 70 incidents last year at the area’s three major airports.
Schumer said 90 percent of laser incidents involve green lights. The green laser pointers are apparently preferred by pranksters because the green light travels farther. They also are more likely to injure a pilot’s eyes.
“Because of the light spectrum of green is more easily absorbed by the retina and then causes more damage,” the senator told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
Schumer said the laser pointers can jeopardize an entire plane if they disorient a pilot during a take-off or landing.
“We cannot wait until an accident occurs and then act,” he said.
Airline pilot Adam Chronas knows the dangers first-hand. A laser was pointed at a plane he was landing at LaGuardia Airport a few years ago. He landed without incident or damage to his eyes.
“We have to look away,” he said. “We have to close our eyes.”
Other pilots standing with Schumer, however, said they know colleagues who have suffered permanent blindness.
A man was arrested last week for allegedly pointing a laser at two aircraft at LaGuardia. Two police officers operating a helicopter assigned to the Aviation Unit sustained injuries to their eyes, and the pilot of an Air Canada flight also suffered injuries, authorities said.
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