Julian Bray Aviation Security Expert and broadcaster writes: A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600, G-VWKD on flight VS-025 has returned to London Heathrow following the crew declaring a pilot medical emergency, a laser strike bouncing off glass and affecting the sight and wellbeing of the second pilot. This is one of the early morning radio (and television) interviews, on BBC Cambridgshire with the excellent Dotty McCloud and her Breakfast Show
The flight (with 250 passengers and 15 crew on board) from London Heathrow, UK to New York JFK,NY,USA, had departed Heathrow runway 27L and was at FL36,000 ft about 170 nautical miles north north west of Shannon,Ireland, some 60 minutes into the flight, when the crew declared PAN PAN PAN ( Emergency on board but not endangering life) radio message to flight traffic control at Shannon; reporting a medical issue with one of the pilots ( believed to be the 2nd Pilot) following a ground to air laser 'strike' after take off from Heathrow Airport.
The crew turned the Airbus A340 around and returned to London for a safe landing on Heathrow's runway 27L about 75 minutes after turning around. The incident involved a laser being shone at the flight deck, we understand the aircraft was climbing and was only at FL 8,000 ft.
Over 1,014 incidents were reported last year involving lasers, the majority are clustered near to airports. This is in addition to a growing number of near miss incidents involving high street shop purchased drones..
Responsible Plane Spotters:
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com