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NEWS Last modified on February 15, 2016

Pilots warn that UK laser attack not an isolated incident

Britain’s pilots have warned that a laser attack on a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York last night is not an isolated incident.

Flight VS025 was forced to return to Heathrow shortly after take off after one of the pilots reported a “medical issue” following the light from a laser being shone into the cockpit.

A total of 414 'laser incidents' were reported to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority between January and June 2015 and today the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) issued a statement claiming that that more has to be done to stop the relatively new and dangerous phenomenon.

BALPA’s general secretary, Jim McAuslan, says: “This is not an isolated incident. Aircraft are attacked with lasers at an alarming rate and with lasers with ever-increasing strength.

“It is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Shining a laser at an aircraft puts that aircraft, its crew and all the passengers on board at completely unnecessary risk.

“Modern lasers have the power to blind, and certainly to act as a huge distraction and to dazzle the pilots during critical phases of flight.

“We are sure the police will do everything in their power to find the culprits of this attack and prosecute them.

“We repeat our call to the government to classify lasers as offensive weapons which would give the police more power to arrest people for possessing them if they had no good reason to have them. 

"This incident shows why this is becoming more-and-more urgent.

“Pilots across the world know how dangerous laser attacks are and therefore will join with me in commending the actions of the crew of VS25 who put their passengers’ safety first and took the decision to return to Heathrow.”

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