Lasers becoming a big menace for pilots

More than half of British airline pilots say they have been distracted by lasers while flying in the past year, a new survey has revealed.

Figures showing the number of incidents in which hand-held lasers have been shone into the cockpits of air craft while they are landing or taking off have prompted calls for the devices to be treated as offensive weapons, the Sunday Times reported.

A survey of 810 pilot’s com missioned by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) found that 55% of respondents had experienced a laser attack in the past 12 months and 4% had suffered six or more.

“Shining a laser into a cock pit can temporarily blind the pilots, often for some time, put ting the aircraft and its passengers at needless risk. We believe all but the lowest-powered lasers should be strongly.

regulated, and treated as offensive weapons,” said Jim McAuslan, Balpa’s general secretary. Sales of hand-held lasers have skyrocketed in recent years.

Official figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show reports of lasers being shone at aircraft in the UK have risen from 746 in 2009 to 1,442 in 2014 -equivalent to about four laser incidents each day. The Balpa survey reveals that the true number may be even higher, as a significant number of pilots do not report attacks.