WASHINGTON -- The FBI is investigating several more reports of lasers being beamed into aircraft cockpits following a rash of similar incidents at the end of 2004.
The most recent sightings of lasers, which can temporarily blind pilots, were reported as Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta planned to brief reporters today about the issue at the Federal Aviation Administration's aeronautical research center in Oklahoma City.
Mineta is expected to announce new measures for alerting pilots and preparing them to react when lasers are shined at their aircraft.
He is also expected to outline ways to notify law enforcement investigators more quickly.
Cathy Viray, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, said the bureau is looking into a report that a green light was beamed onto the nose of an aircraft last week as it was taking off from the Burbank airport.
''It's happening all over the place," Viray said yesterday.
Beginning on Christmas night, there were reports from all over the country of lasers pointed at aircraft cockpits: in Cleveland, Houston, Colorado Springs, Colo., Medford, Ore., and Nashville, Tenn. Many of the reports described a green beam.
A New Jersey man was arrested and charged last week under the Patriot Act for aiming a green laser at a small jet flying over his home near Teterboro Airport.
The man, David Banach of Parsippany, said he had been using the device to point at the stars from his backyard.
The laser pointer, which sells for $119, is the most powerful that can be used in a public place without government regulation, according to Bigha, the company that manufactures it.
It produces a bright green beam that can be seen up to 25,000 feet away, and is used by bird watchers, astronomers, and lecturers to point out faraway objects.
At least four more incidents have been reported in recent weeks, according to the FBI.
Last weekend, two pilots near Dulles International Airport outside Washington reported lasers beamed at them, according to FBI spokeswoman Debra Weierman.
The first incident occurred Saturday and involved the Fairfax County Police Department's helicopter; the other happened Sunday to a US Airways Express flight.