Friday, December 1, 2017

Federal Aviation Administration investigating reports of lasers pointed at planes: Blue laser struck small plane flying over Haverhill and Plaistow after similar incident in Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts

PLAISTOW — Investigators in New Hampshire are helping federal agents look into a report that a blue laser struck a small plane flying over the Haverhill/Plaistow area about 5:15 p.m. on Thursday. A similar investigation was launched in Methuen several weeks ago, after a crew operating FedEx 1291 said a laser illuminated the Boeing 757 aircraft at night.

Lasers are an issue for aircraft because they can temporarily blind a pilot, interfere with a flight crew’s operations and jeopardize the safety of passengers, particularly during take-off and landing, according to the Federal Aviation Administration

No injuries were reported in either case.

Plaistow police were among local departments contacted by the FAA this week, police Chief Kathleen Jones said Friday morning, though the incident may not have happened directly in her department's jurisdiction.

"Luckily there were no injuries reported," Jones said. "We, of course, will work with surrounding agencies and the FAA to figure out what happened here."

The FAA released a statement Friday morning that the blue laser reportedly illuminated a Piper PA28A — a small, single-engine, personal use aircraft — several times.

"At this point we don't know why the laser was pointed at the aircraft over Plaistow," a spokesman with the FAA said via email, when asked if Christmas decorations could be a factor.

As of Friday, the spokesman said there was no update on the Methuen laser incident.

Instances of lasers being pointed at aircraft, whether purposefully or accidentally, have been on the rise for years.

Statistics compiled by the FAA show there were 3,894 laser incidents affecting aircraft in 2014 alone. The number of laser events as of Sept. 23 this year has already surpassed that, with 4,380 laser events reported nationally, according to the FAA.

Of those, 48 were in Massachusetts, 33 were reported for Boston and 1 reported for Lawrence, according to the FAA spokesman.

In 2011, the FAA announced it would begin imposing civil penalties against people who point a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft, up to a maximum of $11,000 per violation, according to an FAA press release. It has been a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft since 2012.

The FAA also has issued guidelines for state and local police to help identify and report unauthorized laser strikes against aircraft.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.eagletribune.com

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