Get us in your inbox


Everyone's angry about... Lasers

Isabelle Aron

We unpick the issues that have got Londoners all riled up. This week, it's the bright sparks who think shining lasers at planes is a good idea.

What's all this then, trouble at Laser Quest?

Not exactly. When people willingly shoot at each other with lasers during a heated game of laser tag, that's just good, clean fun. But you know what's not cool? Shooting a laser at a pilot who's trying to fly a plane. That's what happened recently to a flight from Heathrow to New York just after it took off, when someone pointed a laser into the cockpit. The plane had to be turned around as the pilot suffered 'medical issues'.

Ouch. Was this the first time such an incident has happened?

Nope. It happens all the time in London, apparently. According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, there were 386 laser attacks on planes using Londonís main airports in 2014, and 123 incidents in the first sixth months of 2015. A poll by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) found more than half of the 810 pilots surveyed had experienced a laser attack in the last year.

When you say lasers...

We're not talking about mega-hi-tech, 'Battlestar Galactica'-type lasers here - these are just laser pens that anyone can buy online for less than a tenner. They're not literally shooting planes down, just shining a dangerously bright light at the pilot. It's still decidedly not on.

Is anyone doing anything about it?

It is already illegal to aim a laser at a plane to 'dazzle the pilot', but Balpa is calling on the government to make it an offence to own or carry lasers with 'no good reason'. If trying to dazzle a handsome and available young pilot doesn't qualify as a 'good reason' for laser pen-usage then I don't know what does.

Want more reasons to be angry? The feminist library might be forced to close after 30 years.


    Popular on Time Out

      Latest news