Two Jet Blue planes struck by green lasers near Boston airport, says FAA

The agency reports that there were 9,457 laser incidents in 2022, with the number being even higher in 2021

Amelia Neath
Friday 22 September 2023 17:43 BST
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The FAA is investigating what happened to the two JetBlue flights
The FAA is investigating what happened to the two JetBlue flights (Boston 25)

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Two JetBlue planes were caught up in a laser strike after someone targeted the flights landing at Boston’s Logan Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Flights 494 and 972 were struck by a green laser beam at about 5.40am on Thursday morning.

Although no one was hurt, shining a laser or other beam at a plane can be very dangerous, as it can temporarily blind the pilots.

"Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety hazard that puts everyone on the plane and on the ground below at risk. It is also a violation of federal law," the FAA said in a statement.

“To combat the threat, the FAA asked laser manufacturers to add a warning label to their packaging to make consumers aware of the safety risks and federal laws when using lasers,” they continued.

Coming into land is one of the most crucial moments of flying.

“It’s a very busy time in the cockpit. And to hit it with a laser is extremely dangerous,” Tom Kinton, former head of Massport and current president of Kinton Aviation Consulting, told Boston 25.

“They’re at 17 hundred feet over Milton. It hits the cockpit at the time they’re looking for traffic [during] a visual approach.”

Flight 972 was coming from San Jose, California, and Flight 494 was arriving from Denver, Colorado.

The two planes were struck by a green laser light when coming into land in Boston
The two planes were struck by a green laser light when coming into land in Boston (Getty Images)

“At best it’s like a flashbulb going off and you’re trying to get your sight back in seconds. At worst it’s a powerful laser that can do serious and permanent damage to somebody’s eyes,” Mr Kinton said.

A green laser in Boston had also recently targeted a helicopter landing at a hospital at around 8am.

According to the FAA, 277 pilots have reported injuries from laser strikes since 2010.

In 2022, the FAA received 9,457 reports of laser strikes against flights, which is down slightly from a record 9,723 in 2021.

Anyone caught shining a laser at an aircraft could face fines of up to $11,000 for each violation and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents.

The FAA says it is investigating the incident.

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