Laser Strikes on the Rise; Expected to Reach 7,100 Cases This Year: FAA

Mineta San Jose International Airport leads major Bay Area airports in reported cases

Police in Solano County arrested a man who they said aimed a laser pointer at a Southwest Airlines plane. A California Highway Patrol airplane responding to the call was also hit by the same laser, police said.

Wednesday's arrest adds to what appears to be a growing concern around the country over a rise in laser strikes.

Federal Aviation Administration authorities said as of Nov. 5, there have been 5,148 laser strikes reported nationwide. The number of laser strikes is expected to reach as many as 7,100 by the end of the year, according to the FAA. 

Last year, the FAA reported 2,839 laser strikes nationwide.

Police in response are warning suspects of the hundreds of lives they are putting in danger when pointing a laser toward an airplane.

"Depending on how intense the flash is, and how long it illuminates the cockpit, it could be somewhat debilitating," San Jose Police Officer Rubens Dalaison said.

Dalaison has spent the last few years tracking laser strike suspects in San Jose. He has worked with air marshals to strategize on how to pinpoint the suspects, which has helped San Jose police make several arrests over the last two months.

In San Jose, the area of highest concern for laser strikes is along Branham Lane.

"We've seen a lot of hits coming from this area," Dalaison said. "That's where we've been seeing many of the strikes."

Mineta San Jose International Airport leads the three major airports in the Bay Area when it comes to reported laser strikes.

Pilot Kelly Snader said she is always on alert for laser when approaching the San Jose airport.

"We've been cautioned and we take precaution," Snader said. "So there's no fear in it."

NBC Bay Area's Kristofer Noceda contributed to this report.

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