Laser Pointing at Aircraft Increasing

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in security on (#3GD)
story imageThe US FBI has been working with the FAA and the Air Line Pilots Association to crack down on people pointing lasers at aircraft. "Reported incidents of laser attacks on aircraft in flight in the US have increased more than 1,000 percent since 2005, according to the FAA, from 283 up to 3,960 in 2013 - an average of 11 incidents a day."

Per the Air Line Pilots Association, " reports of aircraft laser illuminations in the U.S. have increased sharply over the past few years from 2836 in 2010 to 3,960 last year."

Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, 26, now has the dubious distinction of being sentenced to "14 years in federal prison, a term prosecutors believe to be among [California's] longest for such a crime." Rodriguez's gang membership and criminal record were likely factors in his sentence, as was using a laser that is called 13 times more powerful than most laser pointers.

Has anyone seen this happen? Or experienced it as a pilot or aircraft passenger?

Re: So many conflicts (Score: 5, Interesting)

by kerrany@pipedot.org on 2014-03-19 17:31 (#PK)

FTA: In pleading guilty, Mahaffey admitted he knew it was a crime to point the laser at an aircraft but stated he "just can't help himself from doing stupid things."

That's not the current genius talking, but another brilliant fuckwad who decided to make the shiny on something far up in the sky. He only got 21 months. The guy this post is about, with the 14 year sentence, also sounds like he might have an impulse control problem, though - the article mentions multiple previous criminal convictions. The lawyer tried a "didn't know any better" defense, but it probably didn't play well due to the previous convictions.

I'd like to see some actual data: how many of those laser strikes do result in moments of blindness? Nearly 4000 known events last year, but I don't remember any headlines like "Plane brought down because idiot shined a laser at it". I wonder if the law is not because of potential danger to the pilots, but because of a danger to the plane due to false positives. I'd be willing to bet that it's not that hard to detect laser painting, and that some planes, military for sure and possibly civilian, are equipped to do so. In an area where people have rocket launchers, being aware of laser painting is going to make you jump a mile and raise altitude fast. Having an idiot whose pointer looks like the start of a missile attack would become a bigger deal. I have no info on this, though. Anybody?
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