Multiple reports of lasers pointed at jets landing at LaGuardia
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Lasers have been pointed at jets approaching LaGuardia Airport in New York City at least six times in recent days, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to put out a call for witnesses to come forward with information about the streaks of light, which can temporarily blind pilots.
The incidents occurred Friday and Saturday evening as the jets were 1,600 feet to 2,500 feet high and approaching the airport in the New York borough of Queens. They come just days after the FAA launched a new Web page devoted to the problem of lasers directed at aircraft, a problem the agency says is increasing.
As of Oct. 20, pilots across the country had reported 2,795 laser events this year, according to the FAA, with Phoenix reporting the most -- 96. Last year, Los Angeles International Airport had the highest number of reported laser incidents with 102.
The FAA’s administrator, Randy Babbitt, said in a news release that the shining of a laser into a cockpit is a ‘serious safety risk’ that can distract or blind pilots and put passengers in danger.
Lasers can send light thousands of feet into the sky. The FAA began tracking laser incidents aimed at aircraft in 2005, when the total was 283. The total reported in 2010 was 2,836. New FAA efforts to combat the problem include a fine of up to $11,000 for anyone caught pointing a laser at a plane.
-- Tina Susman in New York