Outcry at laser pen shone at military plane in skies above Perth

© DC Thomson
Chief Inspector Ian Scott

There could have been “catastrophic consequences” after a laser pen
was shone into the cockpit of a military plane flying above Perth, it has been claimed.

Police are looking into the incident, in which a pilot from the 5 Regiment Army Air Corp (AAC) was flying a BN3T Islander plane above the city, en route to RAF Aldergrove in Belfast, when the laser pen dazzled him.

The Army Air Corp pilot notified Air Traffic Control at Prestwick and then contacted police.

A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) warned a pilot can be blinded for up to 10 seconds, followed by more than a minute of impaired vision when hit by a beam.

“The risks to passengers and crew are all too obvious,” he said.

A Royal Air Force spokesperson said the targeting of military aircraft by bright lights is “rare” but highlighted the obvious dangers to pilots and residents living near such incidents.

“Such attacks jeopardise flight safety and are a civil offence under the Air Navigation Order 2009,” he said.

“These events are recorded and reported to the civilian police for action.”

Chief Inspector Ian Scott, area police commander for Perth and Kinross, said: “It’s an offence to direct or shine a light to dazzle or distract the pilot of an aircraft in flight.

“The consequence of such a reckless act could have been catastrophic for the pilot and the aircraft and I urge anyone with information that will help identify the person responsible to contact the police.”

The CAA spokesperson added: “Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight could pose a serious safety risk.

“Anyone convicted could face a significant fine or even imprisonment should the safety of an aircraft be endangered.

“We strongly urge anyone who sees lasers being used in the vicinity of an airport to contact the police immediately.”

The details of the AAC flight over Perth have not been disclosed.

The dangers of using laser pens was demonstrated after police launched an investigation following a 13-year-old girl suffering permanent eye damage in a recent laser pen attack on a school bus in the Highlands.

The pupil has been left with impaired peripheral vision after a classmate shone the light next to her eyes on a bus to Fortrose Academy on the Black Isle.

Anyone with information on the Perth incident should phone the police on 101.