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Pilots forced to take evasive action after five planes targeted by lasers over Dublin airport

Ken FoyIndependent.ie

At least five aircraft were targeted in laser attacks as they came in to land at Dublin Airport on one night last week.

The attacks forced the pilots to take evasive action, the Sunday World can reveal.

The airplanes were attempting to land at the airport after 9pm last Friday when they were targeted by laser pen attacks – sparking a series of security responses.

The Sunday Worldunderstands the lasers are thought to have been used in the Blanchardstown area of west Dublin.

While none of the laser pen incidents resulted in any of the flights being forced to divert, they still caused “serious security concerns”, sources said.

“This was a very unpleasant situation for the pilots involved in these landings,” a source said last night.

“They had to take a certain course of action to make sure that they could land safely.”

It is understood that a pilot’s eyesight can be negatively impacted for a number of minutes if light from a laser hits them directly in the eye.

A spokesman for Garda Headquarters said: “An incident was reported to gardaí at approximately 9pm on the 2nd of December, 2022.

Inquiries are ongoing at this time.”

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) was also contacted but declined to comment.

“Any incident involving laser pens targeting the cockpit of an aircraft is reported by air traffic control to garda,” a spokesperson for the Irish Aviation Authority said.

“It is a matter for the garda to follow up.

“We do not comment on specific incidents.”

The garda investigation is being led by officers based at Blanchardstown garda station.

No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified.

It is understood that all the targeted flights were landing in Dublin from European airports. It is not known if passengers knew the aircraft were being targeted.

Light from a laser can refract through tiny cracks on the exterior of a cockpit windscreen and illuminate the entire flight deck.

Shining a laser at an aeroplane can have serious consequences on the safety of a flight, making it difficult for pilots to navigate.

Sources say that on average around one plane a week is targeted by people with lasers at Dublin Airport.

It is understood that the issue has become a “growing problem” at Cork Airport in recent months.

“The most likely scenario here is that these are young lads who don’t understand the potentially very dangerous consequences of their behaviour,” a source said.

“It appears to be nothing more sinister than that,” the source added.

It is a criminal offence under the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014 which prohibits the dazzling of aircraft and makes laser attacks an offence.

It has also emerged that the garda helicopter, which often responds to serious crime incidents, is regularly targeted by people shining laser pens.

Search and rescue helicopters have also been targeted.

In 2014 the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act made it illegal to aim laser pens at aircraft.

As of August 26 2016, there have been 31 reports of lasers being deliberately pointed at aircraft in Irish airspace.

Since the legislation was introduced, it is understood there had been a significant decrease in the number of laser incidents reported by Irish pilots in Irish airspace to Irish Air Traffic Control – but that has changed in recent months.


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