A man in Newark, New Jersey, was today sentenced to two years’ probation for shining a laser pointer into the cockpit of a plane as it approached an airport, temporarily hampering its pilots’ vision.
David Banach, 39, had pleaded guilty in November to violating a section of the USA Patriot Act involving interfering with pilots of a passenger aircraft.
“At no time did we believe that Mr Banach was involved in terrorism or that he should face a maximum penalty of 20 years in a federal prison,” said US Attorney Christopher Christie.
“Nonetheless, his conduct posed an immediate threat to innocent lives.”
The charter flight from Boca Raton, Florida, had six passengers aboard and was preparing to land at Teterboro Airport, flying at about 3,000 feet when the laser beam hit the cockpit windows on December 29, 2004.
The flight crew said a green beam struck the windshield three times, causing both pilots to briefly lose night vision, so they could not see their flight instruments.
The plane landed safely.