FBI: Aircraft laser strikes on the rise in Mississippi

FBI: Aircraft laser strikes on the rise in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS - This is a news release from the FBI

Intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft poses a serious threat to those in the air and on the ground—and it's a serious crime with serious consequences.  The FBI's Jackson Field Office recently investigated an aircraft laser strike in the metro Jackson area and wants to make the point that it's very dangerous.

Agents aim to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft, a federal violation that presents danger to pilots, passengers, and those on the ground.  Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, data shows a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers.

The number of FAA-reported laser incidents nearly doubled in 2015, to 7,703. This is a significant increase over the past four years, which had hovered around 3,500-4,000 incidents per year

Since 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration recorded 59 incidents reported in Mississippi.  The number of incidents doubled from 13 in 2014 to 28 in 2015.  In the first five months of 2016, there have already been seven reports of aircraft laser strikes across the state.

"Although our previous efforts to raise public awareness have been successful in reducing the number of aircraft laser incidents, the laser threat remains a problem on a much larger scale," said Donald Alway, Special Agent in Charge of the Jackson Field Office. "These incidents continue to pop up all across the country, even in Mississippi."

An increase in reported laser attacks in recent years prompted the FBI to create a pilot program aimed at raising awareness. Since the launch of the pilot program in 2014, the major metropolitan areas of those 12 field offices have seen a 19 percent decrease in the number of reported incidents.

"The Laser Threat Awareness Campaign has resulted in an overall reduction of incidents, and we look forward to continuing to work with the FBI on these efforts", said Air Line Pilots Association International President Captain Lee Moak.

Thousands of laser attacks go unreported every year. If you have information about a lasing incident, or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI field office or dial 911.