THE number of laser pen attacks on planes flying into and out of Leeds-Bradford Airport this year is set to be the lowest since such incidents were outlawed.
Figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that there have been 20 reports of high-powered lasers being shone at flights taking off and landing at the Yeadon airport so far in 2013.
This compares with 81 last year, 80 in 2011, 84 in 2010 and 39 in 2009.
Unless there is a sudden increase, it means this year’s figures will be the lowest since such attacks became an offence in 2010.
But the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is continuing to call for strict regulations on people carrying lasers and wants culprits to be jailed for their “foolish and dangerous” actions.
The association claims it continues to be a “growing problem” and wants the police to have powers to seize lasers.
A spokesman said: “It is incredibly foolish and dangerous to shine a laser at an aircraft.
“We believe it is time for the Government to look seriously at the criminalisation of the possession of high-powered lasers for those without a legitimate reason to have one.
“We believe the police need the power to confiscate these weapons, and the judiciary need to better realise the danger involved. Slaps on wrists and £150 fines are not enough – custodial sentences should be the norm.”
The CAA said it is seeing a “global surge” in incidents, and that the aviation industry and the police are doing “everything possible” to combat the problem.
A spokesman said: “Shining a laser at an aircraft is a very dangerous thing to do and could result in the pilot losing control during a critical phase of flight, thereby endangering passengers and individuals on the ground.”