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Rise in laser attacks on airplanes in NYC sparks FBI investigation

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – The FBI is calling this a very serious and dangerous situation. Lasers can temporarily or permanently blind a pilot and crew.

There is a danger in the air, and it’s hurting the crews piloting airplanes at New York-area airports.

According to the FBI, the number of laser incidents targeting airplanes and pilots are increasing in New York City.  In fact they’re up 17 percent since last year.

Law enforcement officials said the two most recent incidents happened on October 15, 2013.  The first, at 7:35 p.m., involving Shuttle America flight 5973. In that instance, the FBI said, the aircraft cockpit was illuminated by a green laser on the final approach to La Guardia Airport.

The incident occurred approximately six miles from the runway, at 2,000 feet. The crew reported that 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. that same night. 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.

No injuries were reported in either of those recent incidents at LGA, but several commercial pilots earlier this year suffered significant injury including a burnt retina.