VIDEO: Sharp rise in London laser attacks on aircraft targets

The BBC reports that there has been a sharp increase in the number of incidents in which handheld lasers are being used to threaten flights over London.

View BBC Video

According to the Metropolitan Police, in 2012 there were 252 reported incidents, an increase from 145  in 2010.

A summit hosted in 2011 by European air navigation agency Eurocontrol heard that in 2009, there were 1,048 reported incidents throughout the 44 European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) states. In 2010, that had risen to 4,266 partly due to better reporting systems.

At present, only a handful of European states have state regulations on laser interference and there is growing consensus that judicial measures should be taken further.

The US Federal Aviation Administration last year directed its investigators to pursue stiffer penalties for individuals who maliciously point laser devices at aircraft.

“Shining a laser at an airplane is not a laughing matter. It’s dangerous for both pilots and passengers, and we will not tolerate it,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will pursue the toughest penalties against anyone caught putting the safety of the flying public at risk.”

The number of reported laser incidents in the US rose from 2,836 in 2010, to 3,592 in 2011. Laser incident reports have increased steadily since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots.

The summit concluded by calling on the European Union to develop stringent regulation on the production, distribution, purchase, carriage and use of lasers.

“Laser interference is growing and presents a global safety and security threat; it is not just an aviation issue,” said Eurocontrol. “Laser interference tactics have changed and a harmonised, multidisciplinary and pro-active approach is needed to counter this threat.”

It recommended timely and effective in-flight and postflight procedures for dealing with interference – as well as training in these procedures for both pilots and air traffic controllers. It was also felt that advances in nanotechnology filters might prove helpful in the future.


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