Blanchard, La (KTAL/KMSS) — A Shreveport aviation company explains the dangers laser lights pose to pilots as they operate aircraft.

A Blanchard woman was arrested for aiming a laser light at a Baltimore Police Department helicopter during flight training, something a representative for Metro Aviation said happens often.

“It happens at least once daily,” a Metro Aviation representative said.

Pilots reported nearly 9,500 laser strikes to the FAA in 2022.

RW Chief Pilot Wells Cornette said any laser over five milliwatts has enough power to cause retinal damage, including laser pointers.

“If you look directly into the laser, it could cause retinal damage on the eye, and that’s where it gets bad because now you may be blinded,” Cornette said.

The crew is required to note the area of the laser’s origin and report the incident immediately. When the Blanchard woman pointed her laser at the BPD helicopter crew, that is exactly what they did.

Cornette said the unique element of the Blanchard laser incident is that it was a police aircraft.

He said the difference between an EMS aircraft and a police aircraft is that they are equipped with an infrared FLIR camera system allowing them to zoom in on a subject, enter their location, and it will automatically produce an address.

Cornette said he was shocked “because to apprehend someone in this area it’s rare because we do not have a police helicopter here in Shreveport-Bossier.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime and may face criminal charges. And perpetrators who shine lasers into aircraft can face up to a $30,800 fine.