The UK pilots union today welcome tougher government restrictions on the importation of high-powered laser pointers.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a clamp down on unsafe lasers following a call for evidence into the issues they cause.
Additional support to local authority ports and borders teams is being pledged by government to stop high-powered laser pointers entering the UK.
The policing of online laser pointer sales will also be improved by working with internet retailers including eBay.
Lasers being shone at aircraft has been a continuing issue for many years, and the British Airline Pilots’ Association has long been campaigning for stronger control over sales, as well as higher penalties for offenders.
Today’s move follows the Department for Transport announcing that laws would be toughened for offenders, including prison sentences and a potentially unlimited fine.
The Civil Aviation Authority received reports of 1,258 laser incidents in 2016, with Heathrow the most frequent location for reports of the devices being used recklessly, according to the government.
Consumer minister Margot James said: “The government has listened to concerns from pilots, health professionals and safety experts, which is why we are going further than ever before to crack down on the sale of unsafe devices.
“Public safety is of the utmost importance and we are working to increase the public’s knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these devices and strengthening the penalties for when they are misused.”
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “This is more welcome news from the government on lasers and shows that they are taking this important issue seriously.
“The Department for Transport recently announced the introduction of new tougher laws for those who shine lasers at aircraft.
“Now the tougher restrictions on importation should hopefully stop high-powered lasers reaching the hands of those with ill-intentions in the first place.
“Shining a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous and has the potential to cause a crash that could be fatal to not only those on board, but people on the ground too.”
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