Lasers

 Background

Laser illumination of aircraft continues to be a significant threat to aviation and pilots say attacks endangers the passengers, crew and people on the ground

BALPA is working with a number of agencies (including the CAA, the UK Flight Safety Committee and the Police) to address this issue but we are still seeing increasing numbers of incidents in the UK involving lasers being directed at aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary, during all phases of flight.

A laser attack on an aircraft will inevitably startle and dazzle the pilots and may result in significant pilot distraction. At the same time pilots are concerned about the increasing power of laser beams and the potential they have to cause a serious crash or damage pilots eyes. 

 Statistics

55% of pilots say they have experienced a laser attack in the past 12 months (BALPA Membership Survey 2015)
4% of pilots have suffered 6 or more attacks. (BALPA Membership Survey 2015)
The UK CAA received reports of 1440 laser attacks in 2014.
The number or reported events for 2015 was virtually unchanged at 1439.
It’s a UK and worldwide problem. Highest number of reported laser attacks in the UK last year were at Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester airports.

 BALPA Position

BALPA is working with the police, Government, airlines and regulators to look at ways to tackle the laser menace head on.

Pilots say people need to understand that lasers are not toys. They can cause serious distraction and pointing them at an aircraft could cause a crash.

BALPA believes education is the key. The public needs to understand the dangers associated with lasers and anyone who puts a flight at risk should be prosecuted and imprisoned.

Pilots understand there are legitimate uses for lasers and are not calling for a ban on all devices. But BALPA believes there should be restrictions on the sale and importation of all but the lowest powered lasers.

BALPA is also calling for police to be given greater powers to confiscate laser devices and arrest people if they’re carrying them without good cause.