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Action plea over laser pen attacks on planes at airport
An MP has demanded answers from the Government about efforts to tackle dangerous laser pen attacks at Leeds-Bradford Airport as figures reveal high numbers of incidents are continuing.
In 2010, there were almost 100 incidents involving planes taking off and landing and some pilots being dazzled and distracted by the lasers near the Yeadon airport, and figures are set to be similar for 2011 with 80 laser pen attacks recorded up to the beginning of November.
The number of incidents has remained at almost two a week since 2009 when there were only 39 recorded incidents and Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said he was concerned about the lack of progress in reducing attacks at the Yeadon airport.
“The news that the number of laser pen attacks on flights to and from LBA has remained static for the second year is concerning,” Mr Mulholland said.
“I received assurances from Theresa Villiers MP earlier in the year that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is doing all it can to prevent attacks at Leeds-Bradford Airport, including the setting up of a working group on the issue.
“I will therefore be writing again to Theresa Villiers, highlighting the fact that figures have remained the same at Leeds-Bradford Airport and asking what further the department will be doing to tackle the problem and if they will come forward with a plan to address the issue.
“As I have said, a blanket ban on laser pointers is not the way forward because of the effect it would have on legitimate users.
“Something does, however, need to be done to address this serious ongoing issue.”
A spokesman for the CAA said the problems at Leed-Bradford Airport were reflected across the country and hit out at the people who were shining the laser pens.
“Nationally we are not yet seeing any let-up in laser attacks on aircraft,” he said.
“The people who are carrying out these attacks are either still ignorant of the dangers high-powered lasers present to the safe operation of an aircraft, or they simply do not care.
“Ultimately, pointing a laser at an aeroplane or helicopter at any time could result in the pilot losing control of the aircraft, endangering the lives of all onboard and also people on the ground.
“We urge members of the public to report all sightings of green lasers, particularly in the vicinity of an airport, to the police immediately.”
West Yorkshire Police said the force “will continue to take firm action” against anyone caught directing a laser pen at aircraft and a spokesman for the airport said it “continues to be aware of this issue and report as required” to the police and CAA.
e-mail: jon.redhead @telegraphandargus.co.uk