FAA: Laser events leap in 2010

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Reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft in US skies nearly doubled in 2010 to 2,836, up from 1,527 in 2009, according to the FAA.

The agency attributes the substantial increase to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet, higher power levels that enable the devices to hit aircraft at higher altitudes, increased pilot reporting of events and the introduction of green lasers, which FAA says are more easily seen than red lasers.

"The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot's eyes or cause temporary blindness," says FAA administrator Randy Babbitt. "We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials."

Topping the location for laser hits was the Los Angeles international airport, with 102 incidents. The Los Angeles area in general recorded 201 events.

Second and third on the list were the Chicago O'Hare international airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor international airport, respectively.

The FAA began tracking laser events in 2005, with 300 incidents reported that year.