Technology

Man gets 30 months in prison for shining laser at plane

Green laser
The shining of lasers at planes is a growing problem

A 19-year-old California man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for shining a laser pointer at two aircraft.

In March 2012 Adam Gardenhire aimed a green laser pen at a business jet and then shone it at a Pasadena police helicopter sent to find the source.

He is the second person in the US to be sentenced for aiming a laser at an aircraft.

The act has been considered a federal crime in the US since February 2012.

Gardenhire pleaded guilty in October.

Commercially obtained laser pointers project just a tiny beam, but its diameter grows much bigger as the distance increases and can result in temporarily blindness if shone in someone's eyes.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the high intensity light can dazzle pilots during the crucial phases of take-off and landing.

The pilot of a Cessna Citation plane preparing to land at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank suffered "vision impairment that lasted for hours" after the incident, according to a statement from the Office of the United States Attorney Central District of California.

The helicopter pilot, who had been wearing protective eye gear, was uninjured.

Glenn Stephen Hansen, of Saint Cloud, Florida, was sentenced to six months in prison for a similar offence in August 2012.

Laser pen attacks on aircraft seem to be on the rise in many places around the world. In the past three years, there have been more than 4,500 reports of pilots being targeted by lasers.

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