Laser Pointer Incidents on the Rise


Laser pointer attacks against aircraft pilots are on the rise. They are becoming a growing threat to passenger planes, especially during take-offs and landings. In the United States alone over 3000 laser pointer incidents are reported every year.

More and more commercial airline pilots have reported laser pointer attacks in which flashes of light temporarily blind their vision. A recent study has found that laser pointers can cause permanent eye damage to pilots as well as .

In February, a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York JFK had to return to London Heathrow because a laser light had been shone into the cockpit.  In the same month, Pope Franciscus' flight from Cuba to Mexico was targeted by a laser beamer during landing. In New Zealand, there have been reports of rescue helicopters being targeted by laser pointers.

While in the past laser pointers only had about 1 milliwatt of energy , they have become much more powerful today. Laser pointers with a thousand milliwatts of energy  can be purchased on the internet for $30 or less.

Most attacks are carried out by young men or boys, who are often not aware of the dangers of laser instruments. According to psychologists, playing around with guns and other weapons is something that typically attracts males.



Laser pointers are normally used for presentations and outdoor entertainment, like laser shows. Astronomers use them to point at stars. Scientists have been using such instruments for various tasks.



Related Topics


  • according to  = as said by ..
  • astronomer = person who studies the planets, the stars and the sky
  • attract = here: like to do something because it's fun or interesting
  • aware = to know what you are doing
  • carry out = to do a job or an activity
  • cause = lead to
  • commercial = to do something for money
  • especially = above all
  • flash = to make something shine suddenly an brightly
  • incident = unusual or even dangerous event
  • male = man or boy
  • milliwatt = one thousandth of a watt
  • on the rise = increase, go up
  • psychologist = someone who studies the way people think and behave in different situations
  • permanent = something that lasts forever
  • purchase = buy
  • rescue helicopter = a helicopter that rescues people who have hurt themselves or are in other dangerous situations
  • scientist = person who has studied science and works in a lab
  • study = to learn more about a topic by studying information
  • target = here: an object you aim at and want to hit
  • task = job, piece of work
  • temporarily = for a short time
  • threat = danger
  • various = different
  • vision = the ability to see things
  • weapon = a gun, knife or another object you use to attack someone