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Houston Airports Support FBI Campaign to Reduce Laser Strikes in Houston


March 5, 2014



© Houston Airport System
Knowingly aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offense and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Houston Airport System (HAS) is joining local, state and federal partners in supporting the FBI’s campaign to bring about awareness to the serious nature of laser strikes against aircraft.

HAS hosted an FBI news conference at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) where a new campaign and rewards program was unveiled. The campaign is designed to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft. The Houston area ranks second in the nation in reported air strikes against aircraft, an act that is considered a crime at both the state and federal level.

Reported incidents of the state and federal violation are on the rise. Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers. In 2013, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported. In Houston, there were 126 laser strikes reported in 2013. Industry experts say laser attacks present potential dangers for pilots.

“Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot, jeopardizing the safety everyone on board,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We applaud our colleagues at the Justice Department for aggressively prosecuting aircraft laser incidents and we will continue to use civil penalties to further deter this dangerous activity.”

Under federal law, knowingly aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offense, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under Texas state law, illuminating aircraft with laser point is a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or up to a four thousand dollar fine.

“Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law,” said Ron Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions.”

Crime Stoppers of Houston is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft.

Individuals with information about a laser incident are asked to call the Houston office of the FBI at 713-693-5000. Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers of Houston by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or by texting TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637) or online at www.crime-stoppers.org. All tipsters will remain anonymous. 
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