Pilots warn that the number of laser attacks on aircraft is still “dangerously high” despite a slight drop in the number of total incidents reported last year.
New data published by the Civil Aviation Authority shows laser attacks on aircraft totalled 1,258 reports 2016.
While this is down slightly from 2015, at more than three incidents a day on average, this is still a real threat to aviation safety, according to the British Airline Pilots’ Association.
Aircraft using Heathrow remain experienced the highest level of attacks at 151 incidents – up from 121 in 2015.
Birmingham and Manchester airports also continue to experience high numbers of attacks, and incidents at Glasgow have almost doubled on the previous year to 83.
Balpa flight safety specialist, Steve Landells, said: “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.”
He added: “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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