(Don’t) shine a light

Pilot - - PILOT NOTES -

Laser at­tack fig­ures for 2016 are slightly down, but at­tacks at Heathrow and Glas­gow in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly

The CAA recorded 1,258 re­ports of laser at­tacks on air­craft at the most fre­quent lo­ca­tions in 2016, slightly down on 2015 but still ‘dan­ger­ously high and a real threat to avi­a­tion safety’, says the Bri­tish Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion. Lon­don-Heathrow suf­fered the most in­ci­dents — 151, up from 121 in 2015 — fol­lowed by Glas­gow (83, al­most dou­ble the 2015 to­tal), Birm­ing­ham (73), Manch­ester (72), Lon­don-city (62), Lon­don-gatwick (55), Not­ting­ham-east Mid­lands (54), John Len­non (46), Ed­in­burgh (44), New­cas­tle and Leeds-brad­ford (44 each), Lon­don-lu­ton (31), Bristol (18) and Lon­don-stansted (16).

BALPA Flight Safety Spe­cial­ist Steve Lan­dells com­mented, “While on the face of it the fall in laser in­ci­dents is pos­i­tive, and may be as a re­sult of our on­go­ing cam­paign, we are con­cerned that at more than three re­ports a day this fig­ure is still dan­ger­ously high. We’re also con­cerned that un­der-re­port­ing of in­ci­dents could mean that we don’t have a true idea of the scale of the prob­lem. Shin­ing a laser at air­craft is in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous and a real threat to flight safety. The power of these de­vices is in­creas­ing and we’re con­cerned that, if left to es­ca­late with­out sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­ven­tion, we could see a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent hap­pen in the near fu­ture.

“We’ve been cam­paign­ing for tougher pun­ish­ments for of­fend­ers for many years and so are en­cour­aged by the recog­ni­tion of this prob­lem in the new Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy and Avi­a­tion bill, which pro­poses to in­crease the pow­ers of the courts to al­low them to im­pose prison sen­tences on those putting lives at risk by shin­ing a laser at an air­craft. BALPA wants to see these peo­ple stopped be­fore they com­mit this reck­less act, and we hope that the bill will give po­lice and au­thor­i­ties the pow­ers to en­sure they don’t hap­pen in the first place.”

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