YEP Says (Feb 16): Police must come down heavily on the laser flashers

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THE MOTIVATION for shining a high-intensity laser at an aircraft is difficult to fathom. But whether it is a childish prank or the actions of a middle-aged planespotter, it is still a glaring example of sheer idiocy.

In the case of the New York-bound Virgin Atlantic flight that was forced to return to London after one of its pilots was affected by a beam, a serious incident was mercifully avoided.

Yet with incidents of this kind on the increase, it is surely only a matter of time before the outcome is far more grave.

In 2010 a law was passed which allows offenders to be charged with “shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot”.

However, the difficulty is catching them in the first place. Identifying the spot from which such a laser was shone is all but impossible for a moving aircraft.

In America, the authorities have had some success by subsequently sending up a helicopter to draw the laser and then identify the perpetrator.

With Leeds-Bradford Airport being one of the country’s hot spots for such incidents, perhaps West Yorkshire Police should consider employing similar tactics.

What must certainly happen is that anyone caught flashing a laser at an aircraft is given an exemplary sentence.

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