(Don’t) shine a light
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.”