More planes hit with laser strikes over North Texas

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by JIM DOUGLAS

WFAA

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 1:02 AM

FORT WORTH -- Two cargo planes landing at Fort Worth's Alliance airport were hit by blinding green lasers Wednesday night.

Earlier this week, the pilot of a passenger jet landing at D/FW International Airport reported a laser strike at 2,000 feet over Arlington.

The Federal Aviation Administration has logged 68 laser strikes over North Texas in 2012, and expects the national total to top 3,700 this year.

"The entire windscreen glows green and temporarily blinds the pilot," said helicopter pilot David Carr.

He's the risk and safety manager for CareFlite. Carr says his pilots have been targeted eight times in two years. The last one occurred two weeks ago in Fort Worth.

"People don't understand this is not a game," Carr said. "Lives are at stake."

Congress made it a federal crime this year to flash an aircraft with a laser. It's punishable by five years in prison and an $11,000 fine.

However, the FAA says the problem is getting worse instead of better. Experts attribute part of the problem to powerful new green lasers that are much brighter than the old red beams.

So far there have been no crashes linked to lasers, but the FAA says some pilots have had to abort landings and hand over controls to co-pilots.

David Carr points out that CareFlite helicopters have no co-pilots, and fly close to the ground.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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