Gardaí investigating laser pointer ‘attacks’ on planes landing at Dublin Airport

Safety concerns over laser pens ‘blinding’ pilots

Gardaí are investigating an incident in which a laser pointer was aimed at flights landing at Dublin Airport last week, with the national pilots’ association complaining it is a “recurring problem”.

It is understood a laser pointer was aimed at a number of flights landing at the airport last Friday evening.

A Garda spokesman confirmed an incident was reported to gardaí at 9pm on December 2nd, and enquiries are ongoing.

The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) has said the issue of people aiming laser pointers at incoming flights has been a “recurring problem” for pilots for a number of years.

READ MORE

A spokesman for the pilots’ association said if laser pointers are aimed at cockpits they can cause “flash blindness” for the flight crew.

“Obviously there’s an immediate concern for the safety of pilots, passengers and crew. It’s difficult to comprehend the motivation behind such attacks, but it is deeply irresponsible behaviour,” he said.

The Irish Aviation Authority said any incidents involving laser pens being used to target aircraft were reported to gardaí by air traffic control.

Kevin Byrne, aviation security expert, has called for tougher penalties on individuals using lasers to interfere with aircraft.

Mr Byrne, a former Air Corps officer, said the incidents posed a potential “serious compromise of safety” for pilots trying to land or take off.

Pilots did not need this distraction and if blinded by the laser light this could mean that landing has to be delayed as they fly around again, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

While it might be considered “a bit of fun” by the culprits, it was in fact “a very serious matter”, he said. “People don’t realise how serious this is,” he said.

Mr Byrne called for a similar approach to that taken by authorities in Los Angeles where such actions are considered a federal offence and carry a five year prison sentence if convicted.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter