Laser pen yobs target aircraft above Edinburgh four times in under two months - including helicopter with seriously ill child on board

Laser lights have been shone at aircraft in the skies above Edinburgh four times in the past two months, sparking a warning from Police Scotland.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 2:18 pm
An air ambulance was targeted as it came into land at the hospital with a seriously ill child.

In one incident last month, the pilot of an air ambulance transferring a seriously ill child to hospital in the Capital had to abandon the landing after a laser light was shone into the cockpit for 30 seconds. After trying to land a second time and being targeted again, the pilot was forced to divert the helicopter to Edinburgh Airport.

Police enquiries into this incident remain ongoing.

Inspector Graeme Rankin, of Police Scotland’s Aviation Safety Unit, said: "This was an incredibly reckless and dangerous act which could have resulted in the injury of a pilot who was trying to fly a helicopter with a sick patient on board.

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"Not only is this clearly illegal, with the possibility of a custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine, it is exceptionally dangerous. Pilots can become temporarily blind at the most critical part of the flight while they are taking off and landing an aircraft which could have several hundred people on board. The consequences do not bear thinking about and we are determined to stop people from carrying out such obviously dangerous acts.

"We will do everything possible to track down, arrest and bring before the courts anyone who does this, but we are asking for the public's help. If you see anyone shining a Laser light at an aircraft, you should call 999 immediately and report it to the police."

The Edinburgh Evening News previously reported that on July 25, an air ambulance helicopter was transferring a child from Dundee to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh when the aircraft was targeted with a laser.

The helicopter was forced to divert nine miles to the airport and the child had to be transported to the hospital by road, meaning a further 14 miles journey which added crucial minutes.

Warnings have been issued in the past about the use of laser pens, which are often meant for business presentations, but used irresponsibly can disorientate or even temporarily blind people.

Under the Air Navigation Order 2016, "a person must not in the United Kingdom direct or shine any light at any aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot of the aircraft."

Successful prosecution can lead to a custodial sentence, an unlimited fine or both. Under the new law, which came into force in 2017, people who target transport operators with laser devices could be jailed for up to five years.

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