FBI: 2 airplanes hit by laser beams over Portland

Los Angeles Police Air Support Division helicopter pilots listen to law enforcement agents, as they announce a 60-day FBI campaign, "Don't Let a Prank Lead to Prison, Aiming a Laser at an Aircraft is a Federal Crime,'' to publicize the problem of pointing lasers to aircraft, during a news conference at the Los Angeles International airport Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The FBI announced today that it will offer rewards up to $10,000 for people who report others for shining laser pointers at aircraft. A handheld laser can temporarily blind pilots who sometimes need to depend on their vision for orientation. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles Police Air Support Division helicopter pilots listen to law enforcement agents, as they announce a 60-day FBI campaign, "Don't Let a Prank Lead to Prison, Aiming a Laser at an Aircraft is a Federal Crime,'' to publicize the problem of pointing lasers to aircraft, during a news conference at the Los Angeles International airport Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The FBI announced today that it will offer rewards up to $10,000 for people who report others for shining laser pointers at aircraft. A handheld laser can temporarily blind pilots who sometimes need to depend on their vision for orientation. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – Two airplanes were hit with lasers early Tuesday morning, federal officials confirmed.

Beth Anne Steele, a spokesperson with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said agents are looking into the matter.

Steele said the two commercial airplanes were hit with lasers around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials with the Port of Portland confirmed that the incidents were reported to air traffic controllers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the FBI.

Steele said today’s laser strikes appeared to originate south of Gresham. Specific details could not be released pending the investigation.

Neither aircraft sustained any damage, an official said. Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is a federal offense and is very dangerous.

Shining a laser into an aircraft cockpit and blind a pilot and distract crew. (KOIN)
Shining a laser into an aircraft cockpit and blind a pilot and distract crew. (KOIN)

Nationally, since 2005 the FBI and FAA report the number of deliberate laser strikes on aircraft by people with handheld lasers has increased by more than 1,100%.

The FBI reports nationally in 2013, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported: an average of almost 11 incidents per day.

Agent in Portland investigated 139 strikes in 2013, data released by the FBI states. The laser strikes happen between midnight and 7 a.m., with the greatest number of strikes occurring between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., the FBI said.

“Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot, jeopardizing the safety of everyone on board,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Feb. 11, 2014.

Last month, Stephen Francis Bukucs, pleaded guilty after FBI agents arrested him Oct. 18, 2013 on charges of aiming a laser pointer at two aircraft.

Court documents show Bukucs aimed a laser pointer at United Airlines Flight 1406 and JetBlue Flight 1205 in Portland on October 13, 2013.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 24, 2014.

Anyone with information on the most recent case, or any other laser strike should call the Portland FBI 24-hour tip line at (503) 224-4181.

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