Northern Ireland news

Laser pen attacks are `threat to aircraft crew and passengers'

Laser pens can cause temporary blindness if they are directed at pilots during critical points for flights

THE lives of hundreds of passengers have been endangered after pilots flying into Belfast International Airport were targeted with laser pens five times in just eight days.

Airport authorities have described the "attacks" on commercial passenger aircraft as "irresponsible and a potential threat to life".

Laser pens can cause temporary blindness if they are directed at crews in aircraft cockpits.

The airport said the high number of targets over a relatively short period of time "is a cause of major concern".

The recent incidents happened with lasers directed from the Glengormley, Cloughfern, Newtownabbey, Jordanstown and North Shore areas.

Operations director Alan Whiteside appealed to the public to report "any and all suspicious activity" to the PSNI and help to bring those responsible to justice.

"These actions are irresponsible and potentially life threatening," he said.

"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. Their actions are irresponsible and a potential threat to life.

"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 offence. I would ask members of the public to report without delay.

"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."

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