Laser hits private jet, PPB airplane

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Pilots from two separate aircraft reported having parts of their planes illuminated by a laser beam, federal officials confirmed. 

The first incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when a Falcon Jet FA50 was hit by a green laser while traveling north-northwest at 5,000 feet, 30 miles south of Portland International Airport (PDX), according to the FAA. 

The second strike was around 9 p.m. Sunday when Cessna 172 was hit by a green laser while circling at 3,500 feet 4 miles southeast of PDX.  

No injuries were reported in either incident.    

The Cessna 172, a fixed wing single-engine aircraft, is registered to the Portland Police Bureau’s Air Support Unit, KOIN 6 News has learned. It was flying Sunday night as part of a mission to support patrol officers on the ground. 

PPB spokesperson Sgt. Chris Burley said the person believed to be responsible for hitting “Air 1” has been contacted and “there is no belief there will be further investigation or prosecution of the individual.”

Burley added, “based on information learned during the investigation and the statements made at the time of contact, the investigation would not continue.  I was not provided information that suggested this person was responsible for additional reports of laser strikes.”

A spokesperson for the FBI in Portland was checking to see if special agents had been made aware of Sunday’s incidents. 

According to the FBI, when aimed at an aircraft from the ground, the powerful beam of light from a handheld laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots. 

Pilots who have been subject to such attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night, the FBI reported. 

Shining a laser at an aircraft is a violation of federal law. The crime carries a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and $250,000 fine. In addition, the FAA can impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation.


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