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US: Orlando man who lased 23+ planes pleads guilty; could get 5 year jail term

Orlando-area resident Glenn Stephen Hansen pleaded guilty on May 16 2012 to aiming a laser beam at an aircraft. He had been accused of lasing aircraft taking off from Orlando International Airport (OIA) at least 23 times. However, under terms of his Plea Agreement, Hansen will be charged with just one count of knowingly aiming the beam of a laser at an aircraft. In return, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not charge Hansen with any of the other 22 potential federal criminal offenses.

Hansen could receive up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, he “agrees to make full restitution to the affected airline companies.” He may not face the maximum, since the U.S. agreed to downward adjustments in the sentencing guidelines in return for Hanson accepting responsibility for his actions.

As of May 16 Hansen has not been sentenced.

The Plea Agreement states that Hansen “temporarily blinded or distracted the pilots of commercial passenger airliners during a critical phase of flight as those aircraft took off from OIA…. On some occasions, the laser beam … caused pilots to lose their night vision and, on at least one occasion, resulted in a pilot’s removal from duty for medical examinations and to recover from temporary vision problems.”

When arrested on March 24 2012, Hansen told FBI agents that he aimed a laser pointer as “stress relief” from “noise anxiety” due to aircraft flying overhead. He said that “he did not know that the laser would harm the pilots or affect the aircraft.”

LaserPointerSafety.com’s original story on the March 24 arrest is here. The full text of the U.S. Attorney’s office press release is below (click the “Read More…” link).

The United States Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Orlando Man Pleads Guilty To Aiming A Laser At Airliners Departing From Orlando International Airport

May 16, 2012

Orlando, FL - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Glenn Stephen Hansen (49, Orlando) pled guilty today to aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

According to court documents, from about January 2012 until March 23, 2012, Hansen, on at least 23 occasions, aimed the beam of a laser at passenger aircraft departing Orlando International Airport. In the charging document, it is alleged that the aiming of the laser at the departing aircraft caused pilots to take evasive maneuvers during takeoff, and placed the aircraft in danger during a critical time in flight. For example, according to one pilot allegedly struck by the Hansen's, the ascension of the plane is a delicate process, and blinding the pilot during takeoff distracts the pilot from critical flight duties, thereby placing passengers at great risk.

On February 14, 2012 President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which modernizes the nation's aviation system. This Act establishes a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft. The statute was enacted in response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams. For more details, please see press release issued by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier today,

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.

Download Factual Basis [Plea Agreement])