In 2017, there were nearly 1,000 laser incidents involving aircraft in the UK. While this figure is still unacceptably high, it represents a continued declining trend (with 1,300 occurrences in 2016). In addition, 2017 saw over 240 occurrences overseas involving UK operators. Data is available on our website.
In one incident in July 2017, a UK airliner was targeted by a green laser during its approach to land. While the aircraft landed safely, the laser temporarily impaired the vision of one of the pilots who had to hand control over to the co-pilot. On the ground, the pilot was deemed unfit to fly until they recovered normal vision. This event was an unnecessary and avoidable distraction to flight crew during a high workload phase of flight and could have led to serious injury of the crew.
Laser attacks are most common near large city airports. They happen across the UK and are not limited to large commercial aircraft. General aviation and emergency helicopter flights are also targeted. This is of great concern to single pilot operations where there is no other crew member to deal with the distraction or potential incapacitation of a pilot.
If you see someone shining a laser at an aircraft, contact your local police.
The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act 2018 now means that offenders can face an unlimited fine and even face a jail sentence of up to 5 years for endangering an aircraft. The UK CAA coordinates the operation and work of the UK Laser Working Group (UKLWG), an Industry/UK CAA group put together to identify key risks associated with laser attacks.
You can find additional information on our website.
- 1,422 in the UK each year (UK average 2012 – 2016)
- 1,258 in the UK in 2016
- 274 reported by UK operators overseas in 2016
- Unlimited financial penalty for offenders
- Up to 5 years in prison
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