Lasers mark dates on boxes of butter. They cut gems and engrave vehicle identification numbers into cars. They are the key components in compact disc and DVD players. Like so much in the high-tech world, they keep getting cheaper and more powerful. And with at least eight reports in recent weeks of lasers pointed at aircraft cockpits as they approached for landing, their ubiquity could pose a problem for aviation.
A New Jersey man was arrested Tuesday after authorities say he admitted to pointing a laser at a helicopter and a jet. The FBI (news – web sites) and Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to law enforcement agencies last month saying they had evidence terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons.
Federal officials have said there is no evidence the recent cases are part of a terrorist plot, and such incidents are nothing new: a Federal Aviation Administration (news – web sites) study said “several hundred” similar cases have been reported since the mid 1990s.