Laser attacks down at Leeds Bradford Airport but tougher laws still needed, says Otley MP (From Wharfedale Observer)
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Laser attacks down at Leeds Bradford Airport but tougher laws still needed, says Otley MP
The number of laser pen attacks on planes flying to and from Leeds-Bradford Airport has fallen this year, new figures show.
But the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is continuing to call for strict regulations on people carrying lasers and wants culprits to be jailed for their “foolish and dangerous” actions.
And Otley MP Greg Mulholland said tougher laws are needed to combat laser light attacks on planes, Mr Mulholland, who tabled an Early Day Motion in 2012 calling for more to be done to prevent laser pen attacks on aircrafts, backed the British Airline Pilots Association’s call for strict regulations on people carrying lasers and for culprits should be jailed for their actions.
Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that so far this year, there have been 20 reports of high-powered lasers being shone at flights taking off and landing at the Yeadon Airport.
This compares with 81 last year, 80 in 2011, 84 in 2010 and 39 in 2009.
A new law was introduced in 2010 making it a criminal offence to shine a light at an aircraft. But the BALPA claims it continues to be a “growing problem” and want the police to have powers so they can seize lasers.
A spokesman said: “It is incredibly foolish and dangerous to shine a lasers at an aircraft. We believe it is time for the Government to look seriously at the criminalisation of the possession of high-powered lasers for those without a legitimate reason to have one.
“We believe the police need the power to confiscate these weapons, and the judiciary need to better realise the danger involved. Slaps on wrists and £150 fines are not enough – custodial sentences should be the norm.”
The CAA said it is seeing a “global surge” in incidents, and that the aviation industry and the police are doing “everything possible” to combat the problem.
A CAA spokesman said: “Shining a laser at an aircraft is a very dangerous thing to do and could result in the pilot losing control during a critical phase of flight, thereby endangering passengers and individuals on the ground.
“We strongly urge anyone who sees a laser being shone near an airport to contact the police immediately. We need the public’s help to stop these dangerous attacks.”
Mr Mulholland said: “I’m pleased to hear that these attacks at Leeds Bradford Airport are down. However, more still needs to be done. These attacks on aircrafts are senseless and the perpetrators are putting the lives of both the passengers and aircrew in serious danger.
“While the Government has put in measures to reduce the number of these cases, stronger regulation for those buying these pens is still needed and tougher sentences need to be handed to those caught using them to endanger lives.”
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