Blackpool pilots hail crackdown on laser pens

Mark Davis
Mark Davis

Pilots in Blackpool have welcomed a crackdown on people shining laser pens at aircraft.

It follows incidents this year including one where pilot Thomas Hornsby had a laser shone at him from the Promenade while flying in his Cessna over Gynn Square.

The laser pen dazzles the cockpit of an aircraft on a night flight over Blackpool

The laser pen dazzles the cockpit of an aircraft on a night flight over Blackpool

Now anyone shining lasers at air, ground and sea vehicles could be jailed for up to five years under new laws.

Offenders also face unlimited fines, instead of just a maximum of £2,500 as at present, as part of Department for Transport measures to boost safety.

Commonly-available laser pens can cause eye damage and in some cases render people temporarily blind.

Blackpool pilot Mark Davis, from the BAE Flying Club and High G Advanced Flight Training club, said: “The unlimited fine and ease of prosecution will hopefully act as a much stronger deterrent, and in the long run will our skies an even safer place to be.”

He had called for tougher action in September when the Prom incident took place.

He said since then there had been two incidents in the region and two arrests but none in Blackpool.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, said: “Balpa pilots and other transport workers have raised the growing threat of laser attacks for some time.

“The Government’s announcement of a Bill to tackle the misuse of lasers is therefore very welcome and we will work with DfT to ensure its effective implementation.”

Andrew Haines, from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight could pose a serious risk to flight safety.”