The FBI announced Tuesday it will offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who intentionally points a laser at an aircraft.
The agency says a trial program it started four months ago across 12 FBI field offices led to a 19-percent increase in reported incidents. The program is now being expanded nationwide.
A laser can travel more than a mile and can temporarily blind pilots, the FBI said. The effect has been described as being similar to a camera flash going off in pitch black conditions.
The FAA says it has recorded 35 incidents as of last December in which pilots needed medical attention after a laser strike.
Knowingly pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony. A California man was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a laser at a police helicopter and a medical helicopter. His girlfriend is serving two years.
Several incidents have been reported at Sea-Tac Airport in recent years.