Incidents of people with hand-held lasers targeting airplane pilots in New York rose 39 percent last year, the FBI said Tuesday.
These incidents — in which lasers on the ground are aimed at cockpits — can temporarily or permanently blind the pilot or crew, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
According to the bureau’s latest figures, the New York area recorded 99 cases in 2013, up from 71 the year before and in line with the 97 recorded in 2011.
In 2010, there were 52 instances of lasers targeting pilots.
“Since the FBI began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase nationwide in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with hand-held lasers,” the statement said.
These strikes are not just in New York but rather on the rise nationwide, it added.
In response to the dramatic rise in reported laser incidents, the FBI announced it was offering a $10,000 reward for information on people behind such strikes, which they said “have injured pilots and their crews.”
The latest injury was reported on December 26, 2013, by a JetBlue pilot on approach to New York?s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“The JetBlue pilot experienced blurry vision for over a week after being temporarily blinded by a laser,” the FBI said.