On October 29, 2021, the pilots of a Delta Air Lines flight between Raleigh-Durham to Minneapolis reported being hit by a laser three times.
A man in Minnesota, in the United States, was sentenced to two years in prison earlier this month for aiming a laser at a Delta Air Lines jet, as per a report in Independent. The incident took place in 2021 and disrupted the efforts of the pilot to land and put passengers in “incredible danger”.
According to the outlet, the laser was pointed at the plane by 43-year-old James Link who pleaded guilty this year.
On October 29, 2021, the pilots of a Delta Air Lines flight between Raleigh-Durham to Minneapolis reported being hit by a laser three times. They claimed that a blue laser illuminated the cockpit when they were flying 9,000 feet west of River Falls, Wisconsin. Air traffic control had ordered them to switch runways, so they had to chart a new path for the Minneapolis airport at that time.
“The laser strikes caused a major distraction in the cockpit as they were not able to look at their iPads to brief the new approach,” the prosecutors said in a statement. Eventually, according to the statement, the pilots were able to choose a new course and land safely.
“The first officer did not suffer any disruption to his vision, but the captain said that vision in his right eye was affected for several hours after this event,” the prosecutors further added.
A Minnesota State Patrol aircraft was requested by air traffic control to investigate the incident but when it hovered above River Falls that same night, its pilots were also hit by a blue laser.
“Using the aircraft’s surveillance equipment, they were able to identify the suspect, coordinate with local law enforcement, and maintain a visual on the defendant until officers contacted him,” prosecutors said according to the statement. The officers contacted the defendant and “found a blue laser on his person”.
Mr Link claimed he was aiming the laser at a drone, and did not believe it was an aircraft as the object was very motionless. He then pointed the laser to the aircraft of the Minnesota State Patrol.
The flight captain remarked on the “sheer brightness” of the laser in a statement to the court and compared it to “suddenly turning on all the aeroplane lights in a dark room” when they were in a crucial stage of the flight operations.
“One minor mistake during this critical phase could have led to catastrophic results”, the captain informed the court. The act of pointing the laser at the plane, according to the US district judge William M Conley, was “incredibly dangerous and reckless” and put “everyone on the aircraft in incredible danger”.