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FAA saw spike in Tucson laser incidents in May

TUCSON — So far in 2019, there have been 33 reported incidents of lasers pointed at aircraft in Tucson.

“There was a really big spike in the number of incidents in May,” said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. “In fact, I think there were as many laser incidents in May as there were in the previous four months of 2019 combined.”

While laser pointers may seem harmless, directing them at pilots is anything but.

“If the beam of light strikes a pilot in the eye, there have been incidents where pilots have reported temporary visual impairment to the point where they’ve had to abort their landing and fly around for another approach,” said Gregor.

Officials say the activity is not just reckless, it is also criminal.

“If you’re caught, tried and convicted, you could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine,” Gregor said.

With more than 5,500 incidents reported nationwide last year, the FAA is trying to get a message out to the public.

“There’s nothing funny, there’s nothing cute, there’s nothing humorous about shining a light at an aircraft,” said Gregor. “It’s irresponsible and dangerous.”

Aalia Shaheed

Aalia Shaheed

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