Leeds Airport on list of shame as three laser attacks on aircraft reported every day

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An average of more than three incidents of lasers being shone at aircraft were reported to the UK’s aviation regulator every day last year, new figures show.

Pilots reported 1,439 such incidents in 2015, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

Earlier this year, Leeds-Bradford Airport was revealed as the UK’s third worst for laser attacks.

The latest figures put Heathrow as the airport with the most laser incidents at 121, followed by Birmingham (94), Manchester (93) and Leeds Bradford (77).

The overall total is similar to the figure for 2014, when 1,447 cases were reported.

Stephen Landells, flight safety specialist at the British Airline Pilots Association, expressed his disappointment at the lack of a significant reduction.

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

He said: “The problem with lasers just isn’t going away despite all our efforts.

“We continue to work with the CAA and the Department for Transport in trying to find ways to counter this menace.”

In February, a Virgin Atlantic flight was forced to return to Heathrow when the co-pilot reported feeling unwell after a laser was directed at the plane shortly after take-off.

Mr Landells said: “Even with the smallest laser, the dazzle and distraction that a pilot experiences at night is putting an aircraft and its passengers in danger.”

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

Laser users' locations can be pinpointed and the offenders photographed

He called for the police to be given the power to stop and search people they suspect may be carrying a laser for illegal use.

He also wants more restrictions on the importation of high-powered lasers, and stressed the importance of making more people aware that pointing a laser at an aircraft is dangerous.

The CAA issued a statement which read: “We strongly urge anyone who sees a laser being used in the vicinity of an airport to contact the police immediately.”

A Government spokesman said: “The UK has strict laws dealing with people who recklessly use lasers against aircraft and endanger the lives of passengers and crew - and anybody who does so faces up to five years in prison.”

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