06.01.15

SCHUMER: IN WAKE OF MOST RECENT, DANGEROUS GREEN-LASER ATTACK ON FIVE PILOTS FLYING OUT OF AND TO NEW YORK, SENATOR RENEWS PUSH FOR FDA TO BAN THE SALE OF THE MOST HIGH-POWERED, LONG-RANGE GREEN LASER POINTERS; EVIL-DOERS & PRANKSTERS PURPOSELY USE GREEN LASERS TO HARASS PILOTS, BUT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES INCLUDE BLINDNESS & DISORIENTATION WHILE FLYING PLANE FULL OF PASSENGERS IN THE AIR

Earlier This Year, in Light of New Data That Showed Incidents of Green-Lasers Attacks Were Skyrocketing, Schumer Urged the FDA To Use Its Authority to Ban Long-Range, High-Powered Green Laser Pointers ; Just Last Night, A Green Laser Was Targeted at Five Pilots Flying at 8,000 Ft. Over Farmingdale and Another was Targeted at a Flight Headed to JFK.

Health & Aviation Experts Say Green Lasers Are More Than Double the Strength of Other Colors, Can Travel For Miles & Cause More Damage to Eyesight Because of Green & Yellow Spectrum of Light – Schumer Says FDA Must Immediately Ban Sale of Overpowered Green Laser Pointers To The Public & Only Make Available Under Strict Professional Licensing 

Schumer: Green-Laser Use is On The Rise & We Must Do Something Soon—Not After a Plane Crashes 

In the wake of five pilots being targeted by green lasers in New York, U.S. Senator Schumer today renewed his push by urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale of high-powered, long-range green laser pointers to the public. Specifically, five flights were affected: American 185, Shuttle America 4213, Delta 2292 and Delta 2634 were flying from JFK near Farmingdale, and another, Sun Country Airlines Flight 249, was heading to JFK over New Jersey when the pilots were targeted. The pilots were all flying at an altitude around 8,000 feet. The laser pointer that was pointed at the four flights over Long Island allegedly came from inside Bethpage State Park.  In March, standing alongside pilots impacted by green lasers, Schumer explained that there have been multiple incidents of green lasers have been pointed at aircrafts, temporarily blinding and disorienting pilots mid-flight. Serious laser incidents are reported by pilots to the FAA each year. In 2014, there were 17 green laser incidents out of a total 19 laser incidents at JFK airport; 37 green laser incidents out of a total 41 laser incidents at LaGuardia Airport; 20 green laser incidents out of a total 28 at Newark. Research suggests that green lasers are more dangerous to the eye than red lasers because the light spectrum is more easily absorbed by the retina and more susceptible to damage. In fact, green lasers are twenty to thirty times brighter than other colored lasers and can travel for miles, according to media reports.

Green lasers have the potential to seriously interfere with the operation of an aircraft by causing temporary flash blindness to pilots, disorientation, and subsequent long-term damage to pilots’ eyesight. In March, Schumer released data that highlights the prevalence of green laser incidents targeting pilots in the New York City metro area. The FDA has the authority to regulate lasers and their manufacturers, and therefore, Schumer is strongly urging the FDA to move forward with a plan to make high-powered, green laser pointers unavailable for public sale without a highly specific and strict professional license. He also urged the FDA to target manufacturers that are attempting to sell green lasers in the United States, in order to alleviate the recent surge of incidents targeting aircrafts and pilots.

"Green laser pointers have been a repeated danger to pilots across the metropolitan area and country. Their use is on the rise and we must do something soon--not after a plane crashes. The FDA should use its authority to do what I asked months ago: ban green, long-range, high-powered laser pointers once and for all. They're quickly becoming the weapon of choice for those who want to harass our pilots and should be abolished,” said Senator Schumer.

The FDA has noted concern about the increased availability of some laser products. The FDA has noted that green lasers are particularly troubling because the human eye is sensitive to green light; the green light can be more startling to the eye as compared to a similarly powered red light. According to a March 2013 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), green lasers generate green light from infrared light, from which the eye cannot protect itself. In that NIST report, the agency noted that ideally, the device should be designed and manufactured to confine the infrared light within the laser housing. However, according to the NIST results, more than 75 percent of the devices tested emitted infrared light in excess of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) limit.

Laser pointers at one time were primarily used for presentation purposes in boardrooms and classrooms, they are now wildly available at trinket shops, flea markets, retailers and on the internet, and are much more powerful. According to the FDA, laser pointers can be momentarily hazardous when staring directly at the beam. The eye can focus a laser beam to a very small spot on its retina, which can cause burning and a blind spot. According to the FDA, the light energy from a laser pointer aimed into the eye can be more damaging than looking directly into the sun and it can be extremely dangerous when aimed at someone driving a car or operating other machinery.

There are four major hazard classes (I to IV) of lasers, including three subclasses (IIa, IIIa, IIIb). The higher the class, the more powerful the laser. Consumer laser products include classes I,II and IIIa and lasers for professional use may be in classes IIIb and IV. Laser pointers are included in Class IIIa. The FDA requires warning labels on most laser product, including the power output and the hazard class of the product. Some lasers are strictly for use by medical, industrial or entertainment professionals and can only be used by a person with a license and training.

There have been numerous media reports highlighting specific accounts of green laser beams being pointed at airplane pilots in the New York City metro area. In addition to the most recent incident that targeted four pilots flying over Farmingdale, in March 2015 a Bronx man allegedly pointed a green laser at a plane out of La Guardia, injuring four pilots. These laser pointers have also been reportedly used to distract or blind law enforcement officials, like the NYPD officers flying the helicopter used to investigate the La Guardia. In May of 2014, a pilot of a Shuttle America jetliner flying out of LaGuardia Airport reported seeing four bursts of green beams. In March of 2014, a pilot landing at LaGuardia was temporarily blinded by a green laser beam. In October of 2013, a Shuttle America airplane pilot landing at LaGuardia reported seeing a green laser beam pointed at the cockpit.

According to the FAA, there have been 1,976 laser incidents between January 1, 2015 to May 15th, 2015 across the nation. In New York City, there have been 39 laser incidents between January 1, 2015 to May 15, 2015. There were nearly 4,000 incidents across the country in 2014.  

Schumer released the following data regarding the use of green laser incidents at New York City metro airports and urged the FDA to ban the sale of green laser pointers to the public, to help reduce the risk of eye injury among airplane pilots in the event that a laser pointer is directed at an aircraft. Schumer said that the FDA should also work to identify manufacturers of overpowered green laser pointers and other illegal laser products in an effort to prevent these unsafe products from being sold in the United States.

JFK

YEAR

GREEN INCIDENTS

BLUE INCIDENTS

WHITE INCIDENTS

RED INCIDENTS

OTHER COLOR INCIDENTS

TOTAL LASER INCIDENTS

2011

25

1

2

1

0

29

2012

14

0

1

0

4

19

2013

23

0

0

0

0

23

2014

17

1

0

0

1

19

LaGuardia

YEAR

GREEN INCIDENTS

BLUE INCIDENTS

WHITE INCIDENTS

RED INCIDENTS

OTHER COLOR INCIDENTS

TOTAL LASER INCIDENTS

2011

40

0

0

3

1

44

2012

38

1

2

2

0

43

2013

63

1

1

1

3

69

2014

37

0

0

2

2

41

Newark

YEAR

GREEN INCIDENTS

BLUE INCIDENTS

WHITE INCIDENTS

RED INCIDENTS

OTHER COLOR INCIDENTS

TOTAL LASER INCIDENTS

2011

37

0

0

0

0

37

2012

18

0

0

0

0

18

2013

21

0

1

0

0

22

2014

20

0

1

6

1

28

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