Leeds Bradford Airport laser pens attacks fears EXCLUSIVE

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Laser lunatics are putting flights into Leeds Bradford Airport in danger at a rate of nearly three a week.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has learned the airport reported 153 incidents of laser pens being shone at aeroplanes last year – the fifth worst figures in the country.

The news comes as West Yorkshire Police revealed they have arrested a man who allegedly directed a laser at the force’s own helicopter.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Leeds Bradford is among the worst in the country.

“The number of these incidents has really increased over the last two to three years.

“It’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do.

“Most aircraft are targeted when they are coming in to land, when pilots have to be at their most alert.

“The last thing they need is to be temporarily blinded by an intense light.

“Fortunately we haven’t seen a serious incident yet, but it’s possibly only a matter of time.”

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Leeds Bradford is one of about 140 airports and air strips in the country.

The number of laser pen incidents at the airport last year was lower only than Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Following the most recent incident, on Saturday night, the West Yorkshire Police helicopter was called but was unable to locate the culprit.

Then, on Monday evening, the helicopter itself was targeted after being called out to help officers on the ground in Harehills who were investigating an assault.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “A laser was shone at it a number of times.

“Officers on the ground arrested a 22-year-old local man on suspicion of shining a light at an aircraft in flight in order to dazzle or distract the pilot.”

Inquiries into the incident are continuing.

The spokesman added: “Shining a laser at any aircraft is extremely dangerous as doing so could dazzle or distract the pilot.

“It may seem like a prank to some but it could have serious consequences.

“A number of people have been caught and prosecuted using powers under the Air Navigation Order 2009.

“We will continue to take firm action against anyone caught committing this type of offence.”

The 2009 law was introduced amid concerns about the growing number of laser attacks on aircraft.