Federal officials, pilots launch campaign on dangers of pointing lasers into aircraft cockpits

LOS ANGELES - Airline pilots and federal officials are launching a campaign to warn the public about the dangers of pointing lasers into cockpits.

Some pilots have been temporarily blinded by the powerful beams of light.

According to statistics released Monday, the number of reported incidents involving lasers and aircraft increased nationally from about 2,800 in 2010 to nearly 4,000 last year.

Officer Pilot Chris Potter said he has experienced about 100 laser strikes since joining the Tucson Police Department in 2004. One laser strike caused permanent damage to his eye, however, he has been cleared to remain in the air.

Potter said a laser struck him in his right eye, which forced him to rely on his left eye to land.

Portland, Ore., had the most reported instances, with 139. Also in the Top 10 were Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

FAA officials said there were more than 100 reported laser air strikes over Phoenix skies. Phoenix Police say they get reports of two or more laser attacks on pilots each month.

Some arrests have already been made. Last September, Phoenix Police say they arrested five people for laser incidents involving aircrafts.

While no crash has been attributed to a laser, in some cases pilots had to hand over control to another pilot.

The new campaign also emphasizes that pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal.

In 2013, federal aviation officials took enforcement action in 34 cases.

The FBI is offering $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in these types of cases. Anyone who witnesses a strike can call 911 or the FBI to report it.

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