Using a laser pointer against an aircraft is never a good idea and it can lead to an immediate arrest, especially if you strike a Police helicopter equipped with an IR TV camera.
The following video, released by the FBI, was taken on the night of Apr.27, 2010, when a 24-year old guy, Justin Stouder, was testing a laser pointer with a friend from his suburban St. Louis yeard. He was aiming at a distant tower when a Metro Air Support helicopter appeared 1.5 miles away. Few seconds later Stouder pointed the laser at the chopper and within minutes, police officers converged on his home and arrested him.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Doug Reinholz, who was piloting the helo with St. Louis County Police Sgt. Dan Cunningham on the FBI website says:
“People don’t realize by the time the laser hits us, the beam of light has grown, it’s no longer a pinpoint. And the plexiglass on the helicopter disperses the light even more. It was very disorientating.”
According to those who have suffered a “high light intoxication” on one eye, the laser appears in the cockpit as a flash of a camera in a pitch black car at night.
Interfering with a flying aircraft in the US can lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and pay a $250,000 fine.
In January 2011, the FAA announced that more than 2,800 reports of lasers strikes on aircraft have been recorded in 2010. In Italy, during the second half of 2010, 264 occurrences (involving both civil and military planes) have been recorded. In the UK someone dared to point the laser to some AH-64 attack helos.
However, such kind of events have become quite frequent all around the world and laser attacks against planes during landing have been occurring almost daily.
I work in the ATC and last year, just before Christmas a guy on the ground lased our Military Bell 206 Jet Ranger. The pilot turned around to get a good look of the “shooter” and the location and reported coordinates to me and the info forwarded to police. But we get numerous “laser” reports that we can’t deal with, unfortunately – looks like this kind of “fun” is becoming a sport to some people :(
The question is quite simple: WHY doing that, especially to landing aircraft? Fun, boast, bet, boredom? Do the FBI, English, Italian or any other country’s authorities give clues about that? They must have properly questioned the arrested, haven’t they?
Ah, now I think I understand what the laser dazzlers on the new Chinese tanks are supposed to attempt to achieve.