Laser pen incident endangers cargo aircraft


Police in Ballyclare are warning of the dangers of laser pens following reports of lasers being shone at aircraft coming in to land at Belfast International Airport.

Last month, two reports were received of lasers being used in the Ballyclare area and being shone towards the cockpit of a plane as it passed overhead.

The incident happened on March 21, but police only released the details this week.

A police spokesperson commented: “Not only is it an offence under the Air Navigation Order to endanger aircraft, but it is highly irresponsible and dangerous. Lasers can cause temporary blindness, and where pilots are concerned this could result in a catastrophe and possibly lead to significant loss of life.

“Those involved in this activity need to be mindful of the impact which their behaviour could have. If life is lost as a result of this behaviour, those involved could not only face charges of being in possession of a dangerous weapon but could also end up facing manslaughter charges. It is easy to say retrospectively: ‘I never intended for that to happen,’ but when you are aware of the risks and wilfully use these devices, you must be prepared to face the consequences.”

A Belfast International Airport spokesperson told the Newtownabbey Times that the plane involved in the early-morning incident was a cargo aircraft.

She stated: “A laser pen attack was reported by an aircraft inbound to Belfast international Airport at approximately 1:20am on March 21. The pilot reported that the incident appeared to come from the Ballyclare area.

“Normal procedure dictates that the incident is reported to both the Civil Aviation Authority and the police. Laser attacks on aircraft are extremely dangerous.

“Not only is it an offence under the Air Navigation Order, but it is also highly irresponsible and we along with our colleagues in the PSNI and air traffic control are doing everything possible to combat the problem.

“We strongly urge anyone who sees a laser being shone in the night sky near an airport to contact the police immediately.”

Anyone with information on this or similar types of incidents should contact Ballyclare Police Station on the new non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, information about crime can be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.