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US: FBI terrorism unit called in to find lasers aimed at New York-area aircraft

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking for the source of two laser illuminations of airplanes approaching New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The October 18 2013 announcement offered a reward for information in the incidents.

At 7:35 pm on October 15 2013, a Shuttle America (Delta Connection) airplane was on final approach, six miles from the runway, when the cockpit was lit up by green laser light. The crew said the laser source was west of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (green marker in the map below)

At 10:37 pm the same day, a private aircraft two miles southwest of LaGuardia reported a green laser. The laser source was near the intersection of Broadway and Steinway Streets in Queens (red marker).

New York map copy 2
The two locations are about 7 miles apart directly or 11 miles by roadway; driving between the two sites would take about 20 minutes.

No one on either aircraft was injured by the laser beam, according to the FBI.

There were 54 reported laser incidents involving LaGuardia thus far in 2013, with 18 reports at Newark International Airport and 17 reports involving John F. Kennedy International Airport.

From the Associated Press via Global News and ABC News, and from the Daily Mail. Click the “Read More…” link for the FBI press release.

The following is the text of a press release from the FBI’s New York Field Office.

Number of Reported Laser Incidents Targeting Inbound Commercial Aircraft to New York City Airports Increases
Reported Laser Incidents Up 17 Percent Since Last Year

FBI New York
October 18, 2013
FBI Public Information Office
(212) 384-2100

A spate of recent laser incidents targeting aircraft and pilots are increasing in frequency in the New York area. In the same period year–to-date, reports of lasers directed at aircraft are up 17 percent. Injuries involving the same laser incidents have also increased. Lasers can temporarily or permanently blind a pilot and crew.

The two most recent incidents both occurred on October 15, 2013. The first, at 7:35 p.m., involved Shuttle America flight 5973, when the aircraft cockpit was illuminated by a green laser on the final approach to La Guardia Airport. The laser incident occurred approximately six miles from the runway, at 2,000 feet. The crew reported the laser beam originated about a half-mile west of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The second incident occurred at 10:37 p.m. A private aircraft reported a green laser two miles southwest of La Guardia Airport while heading eastbound over the Triborough Bridge. The laser originated near the intersection of Broadway and Steinway Street in Queens. Although no injuries were reported in either incident, several commercial pilots earlier this year suffered significant injury, including a burnt retina.

“The FBI is asking anyone with information about any of these dangerous laser incidents to pick up the phone and call us,” said Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. A reward is available for information that leads to the identification, arrest, and conviction of anyone involved in these incidents. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The investigation is being led by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprising more than fifty local, state, and federal agencies.