Since 2010 to 2015, it has been revealed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), that aircraft flying into Gatwick Airport have been attacked by laser pens 187 times.
The laser pen attacks, whilst many may deem harmless are actually hugely dangerous.
The high powered laser pens can temporarily blind a pilot when the pens are aimed at the cockpit – this is known as ‘flash blindness’, the effects of which could be catastrophic.
Speaking to local paper, the East Grinstead Courier, a former BA pilot, Mr Eddie Lord, is condemning the attacks.
Whilst Mr Lord was not targeted himself, admitting that the problem is an unfortunate modern one, he said, “In my time as a pilot I never encountered any trouble with these lasers, that’s maybe because laser pens were a lot more expensive ten years ago, now they can be bought for peanuts online.”
Laser pens are easily accessible, and are often sold as star spotting aids for those keen to point out stars in the night sky. However, many people are buying these to deliberately cause harm and danger to aircraft.
A CAA spokesman said, “Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight is a serious risk to the safety of passengers and crew, as well as people living close to airports. During critical phases of a flight, such as take-off and landing, pilots need to employ maximum concentration. Being dazzled and temporarily blinded by an intense light could potentially lead to flight crew losing control of the aircraft.”
It is worth noting that the rise in this activity has seen the offence become a criminal act. Therefore, police will and are prosecuting.
Anyone who sees a person aiming such a device at an aircraft are being urged to contact the police immediately.