Belfast Telegraph

Laser pen attacks risking safety of Northern Ireland passenger jets: Airport chief

Belfast International Airport has warned of the dangers posed by laser pen attacks on planes.
Belfast International Airport has warned of the dangers posed by laser pen attacks on planes.

A Belfast International Airport official has warned passenger jets and the travellers onboard are being put at risk by laser pen attacks on aircraft.

The warning comes after five attacks from the Glengormley, Cloughfern, Newtownabbey, Jordanstown and North Shore areas on aircraft.

"Airlines share our concern and want to see an end to this activity which is not some innocent game but a determined effort to cause injury and disruption," said Alan Whiteside, operations director at the international.

“These actions are irresponsible and potentially life threatening. Aircraft crew are responsible for the lives of every passenger on board and any disruption to cockpit operations is simply unacceptable.

“Those who point laser pens at aircraft need to be apprehended and processed through the courts.

“The full weight of the law needs to be brought to bear to get this reckless behaviour stamped out. The people who are guilty of these actions have to be made aware that they are committing a serious offense. I would ask members of the public to report any and all suspicious activity without delay.

“Five recent incidents in the Glengormley, Cloughfern, Newtownabbey, Jordanstown and North Shore areas are five too many."

Paul Girvan, DUP MP for South Antrim urged anyone with any information regarding the incidents to contact police.

"That these planes are so close to Belfast International Airport means that the pilots are still the in the most critical stages of the flight, take-off and landing. Even a moment of blinding a pilot puts all of those traveling on that plane at risk," he said.

"There are those who think that they can use laser pens like this and they won’t get caught. The reality is that across the UK there have been more arrests and prosecutions made under new laws which see offenders more likely to be given time in jail.

"I would ask anyone who has any information, however small, on these incidents to contact the PSNI. It could be you, your friends or family who could be on the next plane subject to this type of attack. It is up to you to help to stop that from happening.”

At the end of March a man appeared in court on charges of shining a laser pen at a police helicopter.

And in June last year a man was given a probation order for shinning a laser, again at the police helicopter and during a Northern Ireland football game.

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