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Airport laser light attacks cut after a change in law
1:00pm Monday 20th August 2012 in Local news
The number of laser attacks on planes flying into Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has fallen since a change in the law made it a criminal offence – but it remains one of the worst-hit airports in the country.
Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reveal there have been 22 incidents where laser lights have been shone as flights take off and land at the Yeadon airport up until June, compared with 80 during the whole of 2011.
Otley MP Greg Mulholland backed a campaign for a law making it a criminal offence to shine a laser into an aircraft cockpit, which was introduced in 2010.
Previously, anyone caught shining a laser at an aircraft could have been charged with ‘recklessly endangering an aircraft’. Offenders can now be charged with ‘shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot’, under the Air Navigation Order 2009.
A CAA spokesman said the number of incidents at LBA was lower only than Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, but had started to ‘plateau’ during the past year. There were 84 incidents at the airport in 2010 and 39 in 2009.
The spokesman added: “There have been a number of successful prosecutions and a change in the law, which may have had an impact.
“It may be that it hit a saturated level, and the people who were doing it have now stopped.”
But he said the number of offences was continuing to increase globally.
He added: “We are currently seeing a global surge in incidents of lasers being deliberately shone at aircraft on final approach to airports, but the aviation industry and the police are doing everything possible to combat the problem.
“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. We strongly urge anyone who sees a laser being shone in the night sky near an airport to contact the police immediately.”