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Police investigate laser beam incidents at JFK airport

Police officers in a helicopter needed medical treatment after they were hit with lasers Tuesday night.

Police are looking for the person, or group of people, responsible for aiming laser beams at planes landing at JFK airport Tuesday night.

According to reports, a laser beam was pointed into the cockpit of Sun Country Airlines Flight 8800 at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The flight, which had departed from Reykjavik, Iceland, had planned a layover at JFK on its way to Minneapolis.

The plane, a Boeing 737-800, landed at JFK at 8:36 p.m. Tuesday, according to Newsday. Cockpit flight staff reported being hit with the laser, but nobody on the flight required medical treatment.

Just moments later, the pilot of a police helicopter responding to the incident reported being hit with a laser, too. The two officers and a medical technician on board were treated at a nearby hospital, and released, according to the New York Post.

The Federal Aviation Authority, and the FBI have been notified about the incidents.

Police are searching for the people behind the laser incidents.

A dangerous prank



This is hardly the first time lasers have been reported at JFK airport, or at other airports across the country.

The lasers, usually aimed by clueless pranksters on the ground near airports, can be extremely dangerous to pilots and flight crew. The sudden and intense bright light can distract pilots or even cause temporary blindness — just as pilots are bringing a massive passenger jet down for a landing, usually at more than 120 miles per hour.

“It’s a Pandora’s box, and we’ve been lucky that there haven’t been major incidents,” Sam Goldwasser, a retired University of Pennsylvania computer science professor and now a consultant on lasers, told the New York Times.

It's even more dangerous when people are able to use extremely powerful lasers they have illegally bought online, said Goldwasser, some that are 20 times more powerful than what is legal.

According to the Times, the Federal Aviation Authority has recorded 2,836 instances of lasers aimed at airplanes in 2010. That's a ninefold increase of the incident in the five years prior.

 
 
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