FBI Cracks Down On Pointing Lasers At Planes, Huge Rewards - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

FBI Cracks Down On Pointing Lasers At Planes, Huge Rewards

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47 ABC - A tiny laser is apparently becoming a big problem for pilots.

The FBI is cracking down on "lasing," people intentionally shining lasers at aircrafts, offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest of a person pointing a laser at any aircraft on purpose.

Enforcement began 4 months ago in February, in 12 major cities, but on June 1st, the FBI started implementing compliance nationwide.

Thirty-year pilot Chris Pali says "I don't think it's a bad idea at all to try to stem what might be turning into a trend."

According to the FBI, that trend is soaring.  Since they started recording data in 2005, the FBI has seen more than a 1,100 percent increase in the number of laser strikes at planes.  Last year alone,  there were 3,960 reports nationwide, but since shining a light on the problem, investigators say there's been about a 19 percent decrease.

"So, we figured if we went nationally with it and increased the reward, that we'd hopefully knock out a couple more percentage points," says Amy Thoreson, with the FBI.

While some worry lasers will hurt pilots' eyes, pilot Chris Pali says that's not the biggest concern, it's distraction during take landing and taking off, which is when pilots are doing the most work.

"If that's interrupted, the pilot has to start playing it by ear, which can happen in a genuine emergency, but shouldn't happen because a light is shining in his or her face," describes Pali.

For now, this is a temporary, 90 day program, after which, the FBI will decide whether or not it's worth it or they need to make changes.

While interfering with the operation of an aircraft has been a federal crime for years, knowingly pointing a beam of a laser at an aircraft became a felony back in 2012.

This nationwide crackdown, coincidentally, comes just weeks after the town of Ocean City banned the sale and possession of laser pointers.

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