Laser pointers are meant for benign use in office presentations.
But because more and more people appear to be shining them instead at passing aircraft, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should restrict their sale, Sen. Charles Schumer said yesterday in a letter to the agency.
“Shining a laser at an aircraft is dangerous and could lead to a horrible tragedy,” Schumer said.
He pointed out that a JetBlue pilot traveling from Syracuse to JFK received minor eye damage two weeks ago from a laser. A few days later, a laser was likewise directed at a Suffolk County police helicopter.
Schumer asked the FDA to consider lowering the allowable strength of recreational laser pointers. He also wants limits on who can purchase more powerful lasers.
Aiming a laser at an aircraft was recently made a federal crime.
The frequency with which lasers are shined into the cockpit of an aircraft has skyrocketed during the past six years, according to Federal Aviation Administration statistics.
In 2011, 3,591 such incidents were reported, up from 283 in 2005. About 1,750 aircraft laser incidents have been reported so far in 2012.