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FBI cracking down on laser pointer attacks on aircraft

WASHINGTON – The FBI is taking the threat of laser pointers being pointed at pilots seriously. So seriously they’ve recently launched a national initiative to crack down on the incidents.

The problem isn’t anything new, but the incidents are on the rise. The FBI predicts that there will 3,700 incidents this year, compared to just 283 in 2005. That doesn’t include the attacks that go unreported every year.

Pilots says these incidents aren’t only distracting, they can actually cause temporary blindness.

Laser pointers are now cheaper, more powerful and easier to get.

That’s why the FBI setup a Laser Strike Working Group National Initiative. The idea came from the FBI’s Sacramento Division, which created a work group in 2008 and was a decrease of 75 percent in the number of incidents at Sacramento International Airport.

There are two federal statutes that a person who points a laser pointer at an aircraft can be prosecuted under – with a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Though a newer, different law specifically about laser strikes has the maximum sentence set at five years, and the maximum fine at $11,000.

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