Phoenix leads nation in laser threats to aircraft

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PHEONIX, Ariz. – Flying a helicopter is the aerial equivalent of playing the drums.  Your hands, feet, and eyes are all occupied at the same time.  

Try doing that with a laser shining in your eyes. Not only is it downright dangerous, it's potentially deadly.

Phoenix leads the nation in such incidents but a new initiative by the Federal Aviation Administration may help curb that.  

FAA officials announced Wednesday they will start fining people up to $11,000 per incident for shining lasers at aircraft.  

The FAA can only file civil charges but Phoenix police can, and will, file criminal charges.  "We'll charge them with endangerment, aggravated assault, and interfering with a flight crew," Phoenix Police Chief Pilot Joe Hanss said.

A laser shined into a cockpit is often magnified because of the type of glass used in aircraft.  

That can cause temporary blindness, permanent eye damage and disorientation, which is a potential recipe for disaster when in the air.  No one has been killed in any of the incidents nationwide.