Recently there has been a significant and worrying increase in the number of pilots reporting hand-held lasers being pointed at their aircraft at night while they are in the late stages of the approach to land at Gibraltar Airport. Sporadic laser attacks on aircraft approaching the Airport started some years ago when laser pointers became readily available, but in the lastyear a number of reports have been received regarding an individual shining a laser at aircraft from the Northern Defences "Jungle" area.
The latest attack which occurred at night, when the aircraft was less than a mile from touchdown and flying at approximately 300ft, is particularly worrying as the pilot would have been severely distracted while trying to land the aircraft. The attack would certainly have made the task of landing at the airport much harder than it already is and would have resulted in the pilot having difficulty seeing his instruments..
These attacks, which might be considered by the perpetrator to be "harmless fun", are extremely dangerous and under the terms of the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation) Regulations 2009 are punishable on conviction by a fine of up to £10,000 and a jail sentence of up to 5 years. All pilot reports of lasers being shone at their aircraft are forwarded to the Royal Gibraltar Police for investigation and prosecution.
Chris Purkiss, the Director of Civil Aviation, said "While the individual shining the laser at the aircraft may not appreciate the seriousness of their actions, he or she is putting in danger the lives of the crew and passengers on-board the aircraft. It is extremely important that we stop this activity happening as soon as possible in order to avoid a tragedy occurring at the Airport. If anyone has any information the person shining the laser at the aircraft, please could they contact the Royal Gibraltar Police.
An information leaflet regarding Lasers and Aviation can be downloaded here: