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US beefs up effort to tackle lasers being beamed at planes
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-13 05:40:32

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- US Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta on Wednesday announced new measures to alert and better prepare pilots to handle incidents of lasers being shined at their aircraft and to spee d notification about such crimes to law enforcement investigators.

    "Shining these lasers at an airplane is not a harmless prank. It is stupid and dangerous," Mineta said at a news conference at the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) aeronautical research center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

    The measures, designed to respond to a recent increase in the number of reported laser incidents, will provide police with more timely and detailed information to help them identify and prosecute those who are shining lasers at planes.

    Thirty-one such incidents have been reported since Dec. 31, including one on Tuesday night involving a Southwest Airlines flight in Phoenix, Arizona, Mineta said.

    "You are putting other people at risk, and law enforcement authorities are going to seek you out, and if they catch you, the yare going to prosecute you," he warned.

    The measures, outlined in an advisory circular from the FAA, recommends that pilots immediately report any unauthorized laser events to air traffic controllers, and personnel with the FAA will notify law enforcement and security agencies as soon as they get the reports.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started investigation in late December into several incidents in which laser beams were directed into plane cockpits since Christmas. A New Jersey man was arrested and charged under the Patriot Act last week for beaming alaser at a small jet flying over his home.

    Laser beams can temporarily blind or disorient pilots endangering a plane, and the FBI was concerned that laser beams could be used by terrorists as weapons. Enditem

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