Last updated: 10:12 AM ET, Thu July 16 2015

FAA Investigating Laser Pointer Incidents Over New Jersey

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | July 16, 2015

FAA Investigating Laser Pointer Incidents Over New Jersey

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating reports from 11 different commercial flights that were targeted by laser pointers late Wednesday night over New Jersey.

Four of the incidents involved planes heading to or departing Newark Liberty International Airport; one plane was headed to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Two of the reports came from pilots of United Airlines flights, three from American Airlines.

According to New York’s ABC7 news, the incidents happened within seven to 20 miles from Newark Airport. Once air traffic controllers began taking the calls from pilots about the green lights, they immediately changed landing approaches for incoming flights.

In one exchange, a pilot tells air traffic control: “Just for your information, there’s someone shooting a laser four or five miles back off our (left) wing.”

Another pilot: “United 330, we are getting a laser at 10 o’clock, low now.”

And a third: “American 1976 checking in with you and we just got the laser also, here at 3,000.”

Pointing a laser at a commercial airliner is a federal crime, and carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The danger, according to, is that when shined at a cockpit window the laser pointer light appears much bigger and disperses throughout the flight deck, and could temporarily blind the pilots.

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