LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — A growing concern for local pilots has one helicopter company sharing that it's seeing the number of reported laser strikes on its aircraft, double over the past couple of years.
"My pilots, in particular, had two just in the last month," said Mark Schlaefli, the Director of Operations for Sundance Helicopters.
The helicopter company flies roughly 250,000 people a year.
When a laser is pointed at the cockpit of an aircraft, it can affect a pilot's ability to fly safely.
"For us, with a single pilot, any interruption in that pilot's concentration or his vision, especially at night, becomes an issue," said Schlaefli. "In our case, flying low-level, the temporary distraction and the night blindness, particularly during critical phases of flight, will cause us some concern."
He says while it's been an issue for the past five years, he's seen an increase in these laser strikes more recently.
"Generally, it's a very quick event and could range from the interior of the aircraft just being illuminated to the glare of the windshield causing a bit of a flash," said Schlaefli.
If you point lasers at aircraft, it's not just a major safety concern, but it could also mean stiff penalties.
"It is a federal crime, and you can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison if you do it," said Schlaefli.
For more information, visit the FAA website.
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