Laser ‘attack’ on plane prompts cross-border police response
An easyJet flight was targeted in a ‘laser attack’ as it tried to land in Gibraltar on Thursday evening in strong winds, prompting a cross-border police response and warnings about aviation safety.
The plane aborted its first attempt to land due to the winds but as it came in for a second try, a laser beam was shone at the aircraft from Spain.
Civil aviation safety officials warn that lasers can blind a pilot during a critical moment and pose a serious safety risk.
On Thursday, the plane diverted to Málaga as a result of the weather, but the laser incident was immediately reported to the Royal Gibraltar Police by Air Traffic Control.
The RGP contacted the Spanish authorities and a police car was despatched to the area..
“It is not known if they found the person shining the laser at the aircraft,” Gibraltar’s Director of Civil Aviation, Chris Purkiss, told the Chronicle.
A report of endangering a flight by virtue of shining a light or laser was subsequently filed by the RGP.
The incident happened on Thursday evening as a flight from Bristol approached the runway.
"The pilot of EasyJet’s service from Bristol last night reported to Air Traffic Control that, in the course of a go-around after his second approach to the runway and about a mile to the west of the airport, a green laser had been shone at his aircraft from the promenade area in Spain,” Mr Purkiss said.
The aircraft had already received wind shear warnings due to the strong winds in the area and the pilot then elected for weather reasons to divert to Málaga Airport.
Several laser attack incidents were reported last year.
Lasers beamed at flights run a high risk of flash blinding pilots, which is particularly dangerous when pilots disengage automatic mode when preparing to land.
“This is the first incident involving lasers reported at the airport in 2017,” Mr Purkiss said.
“The public are reminded that such activity is a criminal offence, both here in Gibraltar and in Spain, which could result in custodial sentences or heavy fines being handed out to anyone found guilty of firing a laser at an aircraft.”
Photo by DM Parody