Two JetBlue pilots managed to land their airliner safely Monday night after a blinding green laser was aimed at their cockpit near an airport in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s office.
The flight was approaching a runway at Palm Beach International Airport around 7 p.m. on Monday when a laser beamed into the cockpit, according to the FAA. The flight had departed from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
“Thankfully they were able to land the jet safely,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“There has been an ongoing problem with the misuse of a green laser that has been pointed into the cockpits of aircrafts landing at PBIA,” the sherriff’s statement added.
The problem has not been limited to Palm Beach, with other cities reporting a recent increase in laser targeting as well.
From Jan. 1 to Nov. 15 of this year, 36 laser incidents were reported in the Palm Beach and Boca Raton area; 279 incidents were reported overall in Florida; and 3434 were reported nationwide, according to the FAA.
NBC New York reported that the number of such incidents involving lasers has increased 17 percent since last year after two incidents on Oct. 15 near LaGuardia Airport. At Kennedy Airport, lasers were pointed into cockpits 17 times in 2013, including once in October; at LaGuardia Airport, there were 54 laser incidents in 2013, and three in October; and at Newark Airport, there were 18 events in 2013, including four in October, according to NBC New York.
The misuse of laser-based lighting devices is a felony, according to the sheriff’s office. By law, any person who knowingly and willfully shines, points, or focuses the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft faces felony charges.