The FBI today announced a new regional reward program to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft.
Reported incidents of the federal violation are on the rise. Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers.
In an effort to raise public awareness about the issue, the FBI has launched a targeted regional reward program, which will run for 60 days in 12 FBI field offices. As part of the pilot program, the FBI will offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft.
The FBI will also be working with state and local law enforcement to educate teens about the dangers associated with lasing.
“Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions.”
In 2013, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported—an average of almost 11 incidents per day. Industry experts say laser attacks present potential dangers for pilots.
“Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot, jeopardizing the safety of everyone on board,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We applaud our colleagues at the Justice Department for aggressively prosecuting aircraft laser incidents, and we will continue to use civil penalties to further deter this dangerous activity.”
“The risk associated with illegal and inappropriate laser illuminations is unacceptable. Pointing lasers at aircraft in flight poses a serious safety risk to the traveling public,” said Air Line Pilots Association International President Captain Lee Moak. “Since ALPA successfully urged lawmakers to make laser illuminations on aircraft a specific federal crime, laser targeting of aircraft is now a violation of both federal and civil laws with real penalties, and we will advocate for our FBI and FAA partners to vigorously pursue anyone who misuses these devices.”
Thousands of laser attacks go unreported every year. If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI field office or dial 911.
FBI field offices participating in the regional reward program are Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Juan, and the Washington Field Office.