News and Press Releases

Orlando Man Charged with Aiming a Laser at Airliners Departing from Orlando International Airport

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2012

Orlando, FL - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces the filing of a criminal complaint charging Glenn Stephen Hansen (49, Orlando) with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. If convicted, Hansen faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to court documents, on at least 23 occasions between January 2012 and March 23, 2012, Hansen aimed the beam of a laser at passenger aircraft departing from the Orlando International Airport. The complaint alleges that the aiming of the laser at the departing aircraft caused pilots to take evasive maneuvers during takeoff, and placed the aircraft in danger during a critical time flight. According to one pilot allegedly struck by Hansen’s laser, the ascension of the plane is a delicate process, and blinding the pilot during takeoff distracts the pilot from critical flight duties, thereby placing passengers at great risk.

On Feb. 14, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which modernizes the nation's aviation system. This Act establishes a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft. The statute was enacted in response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams. A criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.

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