Laser targets plane landing at Edinburgh Airport

Police say the laser strike could have had disastrous consequences. File picture: supplied
Police say the laser strike could have had disastrous consequences. File picture: supplied
1
Have your say

AN airline pilot was almost forced to take evasive action after being targeted by a laser on the approach to Edinburgh Airport.

Police said the pilot was “distracted” after the device was shone at the commercial plane in an attack lasting ten seconds.

Airport bosses have branded the stunt “stupid and dangerous”, pledging to work with police to help stamp out the growing problem.

The incident – on Sunday around 7.40pm – comes two months after a laser pen was shone at a cockpit from Musselburgh during a plane’s final approach to the airport.

DOWNLOAD THE EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS APP ON ITUNES OR GOOGLE PLAY

And in June 2014, a bright green light was flashed into the cockpit of a police helicopter weeks before it crashed into the Clutha Bar in Glasgow.

In a statement on Facebook, police said: “Folks, it’s sad to see that some people are still either unaware of the dangers of flashing lasers towards aircraft, or choose to ignore these dangers.

“A pilot coming in to Edinburgh Airport fortunately escaped having to take evasive action but was affected and distracted by a laser being shone at the aircraft for about ten seconds, whilst on approach to the airport. Ten whole seconds.

“The sky may appear to be this great empty space where the likelihood of any harm is minimal when compared to say, a packed motorway.

“But in reality, the aptitude required to maintain the safety of an aircraft in flight, and bring it in to land without incident, is huge. It’s not about other traffic in the sky.

“It’s about the perfectly capable and highly skilled pilots keeping control of the powerful machine they’re in charge of, that’s often carrying hundreds of people.

“And ten seconds of distraction at crucial times like take-off and landing is time they can not afford to lose.”

In February a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to New York JFK Airport was forced to turn back when a laser beam was shone into the cockpit, an incident which led the British Airline Pilots Association to call for lasers to be classified as “offensive weapons”.

A spokesman for LaserPointerSafety.com, an independent resource for users, regulators and pilots concerned with handheld portable lasers, added: “Even though the laser projects a small, millimetre-sized dot close up, at longer distances the beam can be many inches across.

“When the beam hits the windscreen of a cockpit, or the bubble of a helicopter, imperfections in and on the glass spread the light out even more.

“These beams are not only a dangerous distraction but can also cause temporary flash-blindness and more permanent damage

john.connell@edinburghnews.com