5 years in prison for laser aircraft attacks

Wales Air Ambulance Laser attack (Image: Wales Air Ambulance)
Wales Air Ambulance Laser attack (Image: Wales Air Ambulance)

Shining a laser at an aircraft can now land you up to 5 years in prison under the new law that came into effect today.

The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act means that offenders who point a laser pen at any vehicle will face tougher penalties of up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

The law also protects air traffic controllers who are helping to navigate aircraft or other vehicles.

There has been a rise in laser attacks on commercial aircraft and emergency helicopters including Police Helicopters and Air Ambulances.

In 2015 Liam Chadwick was sentenced to 6 months in prison for endangering an aircraft with a laser pen and Wales Air Ambulance was one of many aircraft that were targeted in recent years.

Video: Wales Air Ambulance is attacked at night by a laser pen.

Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said: “Lasers, used recklessly, can have very serious, potentially fatal consequences. This government has toughened up the law to crack down on this dangerous behaviour.

“These new laws offer greater protection for operators and passengers alike against irresponsible and reckless laser use.

The tough new legislation was introduced in December and latest figures show the number of laser aviation incidents fell in March to the lowest levels since 2009.”

Head of Flight Safety at BALPA, Dr Rob Hunter said: “The public needs to recognise that lasers are not toys and shining one at an aircraft endangers all those on board and anyone on the ground.

“The police now have greater powers, and anyone caught could face 5 years in jail.

“This legislation removes the need for police officers to establish proof of intention to endanger so people will find it much harder to hide behind the claim they ‘did it by accident’.

“If you have bought a laser for your kids or have one that you don’t really need, we suggest you take the batteries out and throw it away.

“It’s not worth you, or someone close to you, getting a criminal record for the sake of what is mistakenly believed to be a toy.”

About Nick Harding 449 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.