Thu, May 17, 2012
Two Incidents Occurred Within Minutes
Utah police are looking for suspects after green lasers were pointed at two airborne aircraft landing at Salt Lake City International Airport last week. USA Today reports the first incident involved a Southwest Boeing 737 flying at 9,500 feet above the ground, while the second incident involved a Lear jet at 6,000 feet about twelve minutes later. Local authorities say the incidents happened last Thursday.
A spokesman for the airport, David Korzep told The Salt Lake Tribune that both planes landed safely, although the lasers briefly “took out” cockpit visibility. Korzep added “It’s a crucial phase of flight, the final approach to your destination. This is a huge safety consideration.” Pointing a laser device at an aircraft is also a federal crime, and convictions can mean up to a $250,000 fine and as many as 20 years in jail.
The FAA reported last year that the number of laser assaults on aircraft increased, in spite of the increased penalties for anyone caught doing it. According to USA Today, “The number of incidents nationally in which people pointed lasers at aircraft nearly doubled in 2010 to 2,836 incidents, according to the FAA”. The Salt Lake City airport ranked 14th nationally with 36 incidents in 2010.
Rich Bell, a police spokesman told the Tribune “we’ve had these incidents in the past and if they keep doing it, we have had some success in tracking them down.” (FAA image of a laser shining into a cockpit)
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