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Pope Francis' Plane Lands Safely in Mexico City After Laser Flash: Airline

by Corky Siemaszko /  / Updated 

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Pope Francis' plane landed safely in Mexico City on Friday despite a laser beam apparently targeting the aircraft from the ground, Alitalia Airlines said.

 Pope Francis makes the sign of the cross during a farewell ceremony at the Jose Marti Airport in Havana on Friday. Ernesto Mastrascusa / EPA, file

The crew "noticed a laser light from the ground, as did other aircraft flying towards Mexico City," the airline said in a statement Tuesday. "Captain, Massimiliano Marselli promptly reported to the control tower what the cockpit crew had witnessed, which is standard procedure with these type of matters."

The papal plane, which is an Airbus A330, landed safely and the wildly popular pontiff is now in the midst of a 5-day pilgrimage to Mexico.

Alitalia flight AZ4000 from Havana, Cuba, to the Mexican capital was making its final approach when it was zapped, the airline reported.

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Pointing lasers at planes is not a harmless prank. It poses a grave danger to pilots and their passengers because the light can blind or distract the cockpit crew during critical flight operations — like landing or taking off.

It is so dangerous that the FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information involving people who shine lasers at planes. And those convicted of this federal crime face up to 20 years in jail.

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