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34 Commercial Flights Targeted by Lasers Over Newark in Single Night

Over 40 incidents between lasers and aircraft were reported near Newark in a single night.

Dangerous encounters with lasers affected over 30 aircraft around Newark on Wednesday, July 15, prompting authorities to investigate the situation. CNN reports the laser strikes were concentrated around Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and affected 34 commercial flights.

A total of 43 incidents were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday night. Although EWR had the most reports, pilots across the region reported having lasers pointed at their aircraft. Among those affected were three American Airlines flights, two JetBlue flights and one flight from Delta Air Lines, Republic Airlines and United Airlines, respectively.

Officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told CNN that five aircraft reported lasers being pointed at them between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The Port Authority has launched an investigation into the laser strikes.

While laser pointers are not necessarily dangerous to passengers, exposure can be extremely hazardous to pilots during the critical phases of takeoff and landing. According to the Transportation Security Administration, a laser “can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots.”

Pointing a laser at an aircraft became a federal crime in 2012, punishable by fines of up to $11,000 for a single laser strike, in addition to jail time. At least two people have been prosecuted for laser strikes, with one receiving a sentence of 30 months in federal prison.

Laser incidents involving commercial aircraft are on the rise. In 2014, the FAA documented 3,894 laser incidents — a rise of over 3,600 from the 283 incidents reported in 2005.

[Photo: iStock]

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starflyer July 19, 2015

3900 incidents, two arrests, one prison sentence. Why are the police, FBI, DHS, not doing more about this? I guess safety of our citizens/residents is not much of a concern?