Amid an increase in reports of people pointing handheld lasers at airplane cockpits, the FBI said it is launching a national campaign to offer a reward of up to $10,000 to deter the attacks, which can temporarily blind pilots.
There have been 22 reported incidents of laser attacks in Atlanta this year through May 15, leading to a monthly average that’s up 18 percent from last year, according to the FBI.
The national campaign offers the reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who aims a laser at an aircraft. All of the FBI’s field offices, including Atlanta, are offering the reward for 90 days. It expands the reach beyond a pilot program launched earlier this year in 12 other cities.
“Intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft poses a serious threat to those in the air and on the ground,” according to a written statement from Air Line Pilots Association International president Lee Moak, who is also a pilot for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
The FBI said it is partnering with school resource officers and law enforcement, and its campaign will include digital billboards, radio, video, social media and Internet announcements.
Federal Aviation Administration administrator Michael Huerta in a written statement called it “dangerous and irresponsible” to point a laser at a plane, which is a federal violation punishable with up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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