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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

Direct links to a selection of television and radio contributions can be found at foot of this page. Scroll down.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

New Government puts laser pen attacks on aircraft legislation on the backburner, despite dramatic rise in incidents.

 
 +++ LASER DANGER FOR AVIATORS TO CONTINUE UNABATED AS NEW GOVERNMENT DROPS ALL LEGAL REFORMS +++

Catch up with the conversation on BBC Radio Sussex at 7:10am (Wednesday June 28) and BBC Radio Surrey at 8:10am then repeated on the BBC I-player
 
 
 
 
It is fair to say that all people 'without exception' within the aviation industry are 'more than furious' the new Government is to quietly drop the move towards new legislation banning the use and possession of dangerous laser pens in wrong hands being pointed at aircraft in flight despite a substantial rise in, the number of incidents and the increasing number of prosecutions and convictions being handed down by the courts.
 
As the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) put it: Despite “dangerously high” figures on laser attacks on aircraft, the new Government has dropped plans to introduce tougher laws, a move which the UK pilots’ association says is “infuriating and dangerous”.
Campaigners for the tougher laws in response to consistently high reports of laser attacks on planes year on year, were welcomed. 2016 figures stood at more than 1,200 reported attacks. But latest statistics for 2017 currently being collated are reported to be substantially higher.
The new offence proposed that offenders could face up to five years in prison if they shone a laser beam at an aircraft.
However the latest information is that the proposed penalty will now not be included in the Bill and so will not now be part of any later laser control of use regulations.
Experts have constantly warned that shining any laser ( even weak ones) at an aircraft is extremely dangerous, particularly in critical phases of flight such as take-off and landing, putting the lives of passengers at risk.
The problem is that a laser beam travels in a straight line but when it encounters any shiny surface it will bounce off at a right angle, this is repeated forming a laser 'cats cradle' inside the flight deck, so no matter where the pilot looks he/she could be blinded or worse still permanent damage caused to the delicate eye retina.

This is how Julian Bray Avaition Expert previously reported the growing threat from laser attacks:


A British Airways pilot has reportedly been left with significant damage to his eyesight after a “military-strength” laser was shone into the cockpit of his plane landing at Heathrow, in what appears to be the most serious laser attack to date in the UK.

 The pilot suffered a burned retina in his right eye and has not worked since, according to the British Airline Pilots’Association (Balpa).


 The incident has escalated concerns over the problem of laser attacks. Balpa claims that one in two pilots has been in a plane targeted with lasers in the last 12 months.

 
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The unnamed BA pilot was in the co-pilot’s seat as the plane was landing at the London airport in the spring, and was later treated for eye injuries at a hospital in Sheffield, Balpa’s general secretary, Jim McAuslan, said.

 British Airways said it was investigating the claims: “The safety of our crew and our customers is always our main concern. We urge our pilots to report such incidents so we can make the authorities aware.”


McAuslan said the incident showed the dangers that pilots now faced from lasers, which have become easy to buy on the internet. He said that one tenement block in Glasgow was now known as “laser block” to pilots and police from the number of planes targeted from there while landing at the city’s airport.

 Less severe incidents have often been ascribed to children or youthful delinquency. McAuslan said the “kids’ ones” were not powerful enough to cause physical harm, but he said lasers used in weaponry had now become available on the black market.


 He said: “We’re very concerned about it. When something as strong as this comes on the scene it starts to worry us.”


According to figures compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the number of reports of laser incidents in the UK has remained relatively constant at about four to five a day on average over the last four years.


 But McAuslan said that in a poll conducted for Balpa, half of all the pilots in his union had reported a laser attack in the last 12 months, and warned that even weaker lasers could have serious consequences if pilots were distracted by the beams when landing planes: “It’s a critical point in flight, you have to have complete concentration. When it comes into the flight deck, it bounces around the walls of the cockpit.”


A spokesperson for Balpa added: “Lasers are one of the growing threats to flight safety faced by pilots along with fatigue, weakening regulation and security.


“We are also aware of concern around the ease of access to lasers, the increasing power of the technology and the potential they have to cause injury.”


More than 400 incidents were reported in the UK in the first six months of this year, according to the CAA, with the highest number of incidents around Heathrow – although in proportion to air traffic, regional airports including Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle and East Midlands have a far higher frequency.


 In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said the number of incidents had grown steadily since it started collating information on laser attacks in 2005. More than 3,700 incidents have been reported in the US this year.


 The FBI has released public information films to warn about the effects of laser pointers, explaining how beams can blind pilots at night, with their effects intensified as light is dispersed by the cockpit windows. A Californian man was sentenced to 14 years in prison in March this year for pointing a laser at a police helicopter.


Sources: CNS, BALPA, BBC, The Guardian, CAA
 

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment, 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,
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