Some 1,258 incidents involving laser strikes on aircraft were reported to the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2016, down 12.6 percent from the previous year and down 34.4 percent from the record high, set in 2011. The 2016 total represented the second consecutive year of declining numbers, the CAA said.
More laser strikes (151) were reported at Heathrow Airport in London than any other airport in the U.K. Heathrow was trailed by airports in Glasgow, Scotland (83 laser strikes), Birmingham, England (73), and Manchester, England (72).
Data showed that U.K. operators reported an additional 274 laser strikes on aircraft overseas in 2016, down from 355 reported laser incidents the previous year.
Steve Landells, a British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) flight safety specialist, said that the declining number of incidents may be a result of an ongoing effort to educate the public about the dangers of laser strikes. Despite the decline in reported incidents, the number of laser strikes on aircraft remains “dangerously high,” BALPA said.
Landells added, “The power of these devices is increasing and we’re concerned that, if left to escalate without significant intervention, we could see a serious incident happen in the near future. … BALPA wants to see these people stopped before they commit this reckless act.”