The safety of hundreds of air passengers a day is being put at risk by people shining lasers at aircraft, new figures show.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it received more than 1,400 reports, related to lasers being directed at aircraft, from pilots in 2015.
The 1,439 total – an average of almost four a day – represents only a tiny fall compared to the 1,447 incidents that were reported in 2014.
‘Report incidents to police’
And the continuing scale of the problem has prompted the CAA to urge anyone who witnesses a laser being used near an airport to immediately call the police.
The figures show that pilots flying into or out of Heathrow – the UK’s biggest airport – reported the most (121) laser incidents last year.
A further 94 were reported in relation to flights using Birmingham Airport. Meanwhile, pilots arriving or departing from Manchester and Leeds-Bradford reported another 93 and 77 incidents respectively.
Stephen Landells is a flight safety specialist with the British Airline Pilots Association. He says he is disappointed that there has been no significant fall in the number of incidents being reported by pilots.
‘Safety being put at risk’
But he says the association will carry on working with the CAA and the Department for Transport in a bid to address the problem.
Mr Landells adds that beams shone from even the smallest of lasers can distract pilots, putting the safety of crews, passengers, aircraft and people on the ground at risk.
The association has previously called for imports of high-powered lasers to be restricted and for the police to be given the power to stop and search people suspected of carrying one for illegal use.
A Government spokesman says people convicted of recklessly using a laser against an aircraft and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew can face up to five years in prison.
Source: Evening Standard
Date Published: May 22, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown