New offence to crack down on laser beam plane danger

A NEW law to stop laser beams being shone at aircraft has been introduced, it was announced yesterday.

The new regulation makes shining a light or laser at a plane a specific offence and its introduction comes after a growing number of incidents near airports.

There were 29 laser/light incidents at Heathrow in 2009, compared with just eight in 2008, while the number of incidents at Glasgow airport rose from six in 2008 to 42 last year.

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Overall, incidents of this type have increased 25 times over the last two years, with a total of 737 attacks on commercial airlines, air ambulances and police helicopters across the UK in 2009.

Previously, anyone shining a laser at an aircraft may have been charged with "recklessly endangering an aircraft". Offenders may now be charged with "shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot", which is expected to increase convictions.

Captain Bob Jones, head of flight operations at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: "This new criminal charge will strengthen the hand of law enforcement agencies in their efforts to tackle this problem."