FAA investigating laser strikes at Louisville International Airport

FAA investigating laser strikes at Louisville International Airport

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The FAA is investigating two separate laser strikes on airplanes in Louisville early Tuesday morning.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the laser strikes happened about 1 a.m.

"The pilots said that green lasers illuminated the right sides of the cockpits," Bergen wrote in an email to WAVE 3 News.

She said both flights were approaching Louisville International Airport at about 2,800 feet and were three miles from the runway when the laser strikes happened.

Neither airplane was a commercial flight carrying passengers. One was a UPS plane on route from Springfield, MO. The other was an Ameriflight, which is a small cargo plane that departed from Smyrna, TN.

The FAA alerted law enforcement and is investigating.

In May, WAVE 3 News joined Raycom Media investigative reporters across the country to shine a light on just how big a problem this has become. Raycom Media is the parent company of WAVE 3 Television.

The investigation revealed "lasing" is now happening at an alarming rate. The number of incidents nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015, to a record 7,700 laser strikes, according to records provided by the FAA. The FAA says they're on pace for a similar number this year.

Below are the year-by-year totals from 2009-2015.

  • 2015: 7,703 incidents
  • 2014: 3,894 incidents (Data: Airport Laser Strikes in 2014)
  • 2013: 3,960 incidents
  • 2012: 3,482 incidents
  • 2011: 3,591 incidents
  • 2010: 2,836 incidents
  • 2009: 1,527 incidents

FAA records dating back to 2009 show dozens of incidents involving flights to and from the Louisville International Airport. Many targeting UPS pilots like Daus. Others, striking the cockpits of commercial airplanes with passengers onboard.

Nationwide, records show laser strikes on every major airline. Hundreds of them at airport hubs used by people traveling to and from Louisville, including Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Houston, where a captain had to be pulled from his next flight after reporting burning eyes and a partial loss of vision.

Authorities even discussed stopping the Thunder Over Louisville Air Show after someone in the crowd lased the pilots of one of the C-130s that was performing.

Kentucky State Police caught the suspect and confiscated his laser, so the show was allowed to go on.

At the time pilots said making an example out of those who get caught is key to reversing the skyrocketing number of incidents.

"We are going to have to aggressively pursue it," said Mike Riordan, air boss of Thunder Over Louisville. "And individuals are going to have to suffer the consequences."

Right now, that doesn't seem to be happening.

LMPD said it is still hasn't filed charges against the person caught lasing at Thunder Over Louisville and the FAA has yet to impose any civil penalties.

The FAA wanted someone to investigate Tuesday's lasings, so they called Kentucky State Police. KSP said it was LMPD's jurisdiction.

So the FAA called LMPD, but LMPD said the lasings happened out of their jurisdiction.

Which means, now no one is investigating.

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