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‘Laser pens are putting passengers’ lives at risk’
People shining laser pens at planes near Leeds Bradford Airport are playing “Russian roulette” with lives, according to an association of pilots.
The stark warning comes after four separate incidents on Sunday when lasers were shone at passenger aircraft flying in and out of the airport at Yeadon.
Now the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is leading calls for tough action against people caught shining lights at planes and helicopters, and wants to see stronger regulations on the lasers.
Richard Toomer, from BALPA, said the lives of everybody on a plane could be “at risk” in the laser pen attacks.
“Shining lasers at aircraft is very stupid and very dangerous, and it is likely to land you in serious trouble,” he said.
“Pilots can easily be temporarily blinded by laser attacks. Being blinded or dazzled by these incredibly bright lasers puts everyone’s life on board that aircraft at risk.
Anybody putting aircraft at risk must be made accountableRichard Toomer
“People who do this maliciously – or even through ignorance – are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.”
He wants more people jailed if they are convicted of the offence.
“Anybody putting aircraft at risk on approach to Leeds Bradford Airport, or attacking police helicopters, must be held accountable, and the justice system must recognise the seriousness of this offence and deal with them accordingly. Certainly custodial sentences should be the norm,” Mr Toomer added.
“A longer term way of dealing with this problem is by having stronger regulation over the sale, import and licensing of strong laser devices, which BALPA supports.”
An LBA spokesman confirmed the four latest attacks had been reported to police and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who carry out an investigation on each incident.
Police received reports of lasers being shone from the Horsforth area at 10.28pm, the Ackworth or Featherstone area at 10.50pm, the Huddersfield or Dewsbury area at 11.55pm and Bradford at 11.59pm.
CAA spokesman, Richard Taylor, said: “It is dangerous – people who are doing it need to understand it is dangerous. It could cause a loss of control and could have terrible consequences.”
Pilots at private aviation company Multiflight, based at LBA, have also urged people not to aim a laser pointer at or near an aircraft.
In a statement, Multiflight said helicopter pilots, including for the air ambulance, say laser pointers are a “real nuisance and interfere with night vision, distracting pilots from flying”.
“Members of the public need to be aware of how dangerous laser pointers are and that they can cause aircraft to crash,” the statement said.
All the incidents took place a week after we reported how the number of laser attacks on planes flying into Leeds-Bradford Airport had fallen since a change in the law made it a criminal offence, although it remained one of the worst-hit airports in the country.”