laser lights directed at cockpits

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    US pilots fear lasers were work of terrorists
    New York
    January 2, 2005

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    The FBI is investigating reports that laser beams have been directed into the cockpits of seven aircraft flying over America since Christmas, amid fears that terrorists could use them to blind or disorientate pilots.

    Crews have reported two incidents in Colorado Springs and one each in Cleveland, Washington, Houston, Teterboro, New Jersey, and Medford, Oregon. All the planes landed safely.

    Pilots are not convinced by reports that federal investigators have found no evidence of terrorist involvement.

    "It's not some kid, it's too organised," said Paul Rancatore, the deputy chairman of the security committee for the Allied Pilots Association.

    Loren Thompson, who teaches military technology at Georgetown University in Washington DC, said: "What we're talking about is a fairly powerful visible light laser that has the ability to lock on to a fast-moving aircraft.

    "That's not the sort of thing you pick up at a military surplus store. It sounds like an organised effort to cause airline accidents."

    AdvertisementPilots and safety officials have been concerned for some time about the dangers of laser light shows, which have caused temporary eye injuries to several pilots in the past decade.

    A recent study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that "a laser attack could be quickly deployed and withdrawn, leaving no obvious collateral damage or projectile residue, and would be difficult to detect and defend against".

    - Telegraph

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