Safety fears as laser pen tar­geted Heathrow flight

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

FRESH con­cerns for those on board flights have been raised af­ter an­other plane was tar­geted with a laser pen while mak­ing it’s fi­nal ap­proach to Heathrow Air­port.

The Bri­tish Air­ways BA759 flight from Bergen in Nor­way was aimed at on Mon­day at 9.20pm.

Once again, the safety for pas­sen­gers and cabin crew has been scru­ti­nised af­ter laser pens were iden­ti­fied as po­ten­tially hav­ing fa­tal con­se­quences by ob­scur­ing the view of pi­lots.

Dr Steve Schall­horn, who is chief med­i­cal di­rec­tor at Op­ti­cal Express and a for­mer US Navy pi­lot, said there needed to be more ed­u­ca­tion about the ir­re­versible eye in­juries that can be caused by laser pens.

A spokesper­son for Bri­tish Air­ways said: “The safety of our cus­tomers and crew is al­ways our top pri­or­ity.

“Our pi­lots re­port any in­ci­dents so that the au­thor­i­ties can in­ves­ti­gate and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.

“We take such mat­ters very se­ri­ously.”

Laser at­tacks on flights at Heathrow are on the rise, with the lat­est stats from Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (CAA) data show­ing in­ci­dents more than dou­bled since the pre­vi­ous three-month pe­riod.

Heathrow Air­port suf­fered 14 at­tacks be­tween April and June 2015, which rose to 35 in the year’s third quar­ter, from July to Septem­ber - the most re­cent fig­ures avail­able.

The lat­est spate of in­ci­dents saw Heathrow ex­pe­ri­ence two at­tacks within 10 days in Fe­bru­ary.

A Vir­gin At­lantic flight head­ing for New York had to dou­ble back on it­self as a “pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure” due to the copi­lot feel­ing un­well, af­ter a laser at­tack on Fe­bru­ary 14.

Eight days later, an­other laser was shone at a Bri­tish Air­ways flight on Fe­bru­ary 22 evening, but it did not en­dan­ger the air­craft, with the plane land­ing suc­ces­fully.

CAA’s lat­est re­port also showed that Heathrow Air­port suf­fered more laser at­tacks than any other UK air­port, up to Septem­ber 2015.

A Heathrow Air­port spokesper­son has pre­vi­ously said the air­port “have a very ro­bust se­cu­rity regime in place” and “are al­ways re­spon­sive and vig­i­lant when it comes to new threats.”

They added: “As part of that regime, we don’t com­ment on the spe­cific mea­sures we have in place, but will con­tinue to work with part­ners to en­sure that UK airspace re­mains safe.”

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