(NEW YORK) — Eleven commercial flights reported lasers illuminated their aircraft Wednesday night as they flew over New Jersey between the hours of 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Several of the incidents were reported approximately 15 to 20 miles southwest of Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, and the planes were bound for that airport, as well as LaGuardia Airport in New York City and Pittsburgh, officials said.
“Just for your information, there’s someone shooting a laser about four or five miles back off our back wing,” one pilot told the Newark airport control tower.
“That just happened again?” the tower responded.
“Yes, about four to five miles back,” the pilot answered. “They lit us up pretty well.”
It happened later to another flight from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“American 1976 checking in with you, and we just got the laser also, here at 3,000 [feet],” the pilot said.
There were no injuries reported overnight, and the FAA is investigating the multiple incidents.
The New Jersey State Police said in a statement that it was notified of the incidents by the FAA and will assist the investigation.
Pointing a laser into a cockpit is a federal crime that carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The FBI launched a campaign in January aimed at people who focus potentially blinding lasers at airplanes, and is offering as much as $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest of an individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft.
The number of nationwide laser hits is climbing each year, the Federal Aviation Administration said, from 2,200 incidents in 2010 to 3,400 in 2012 and more than 3,900 in 2013 — an all-time high. That’s more than 10 incidents every day across the country.
Newark Liberty International Airport had 28 reported laser-pointing incidents last year, according to the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The most recent were two incidents this March.
Nearby New York City airports have reported similar incidents, particularly with green lasers, which are considered more dangerous than red lasers because they are more visible to the human eye. In 2014, Schumer’s office reported, there were 17 green laser incidents out of a total 19 laser incidents at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 37 green laser incidents out of a total 41 laser incidents at LaGuardia Airport.
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