The government has scrapped plans to introduce tougher laws for laser pen attacks on aircraft.
The pre-general election Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill included proposals that offenders could face up to five years in prison if they shone a laser at an aircraft, but this was dropped. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) describes the omission as ‘infuriating and dangerous’. It has been campaigning for tougher laws in response to consistently high incidences of laser attacks on aircraft year-on-year, with 1,200 reports in 2016.
BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton commented: “It is infuriating to see that the changes we’d hoped for appear to have been discarded. Not having this legislation is dangerous and puts the lives of passengers and crews at risk. The proposed tougher laws received cross-party support so it’s baffling that they have been dropped. When a laser pen is pointed at an aircraft it can dazzle and distract the pilot, and has the potential to cause a crash. Last year’s incident figures remain dangerously high, with the equivalent of more than three laser attacks a day across the UK.”