National Police Air Service (NPAS)

Laser Danger to Police Helicopters

May 2017

Ollie Dismore, Director of Operations for the National Police Air Service said:

"The increasing number of laser attacks on aircraft worldwide is a source of serious concern to the aviation industry. In an attack, a laser pointer is deliberately or recklessly shone at airborne aircraft, sometimes persistently over a period of minutes. The impact on a pilot is at the very least distracting, but can be serious enough to cause temporary 'flash' blindness and in some cases; lasting eye damage.

"The frequency of these attacks in the UK alone is increasing at a worrying rate with around 1800 laser strikes on aircraft last year officially reported to the Civil Aviation Authority.  What may seem harmless fun to the culprit could potentially have devastating consequences for the crew and passengers in the aircraft as well as innocent members of public on the ground. In serious cases, using a laser pointer in this way can carry a prison sentence.

"The National Police Air Service is working with colleagues from across the UK aviation sector in order to manage this risk and to reduce the number of flight crews that become victims of these attacks. Within the next few months laser protective eyewear should be arriving and will be used against persistent attacks and when deliberately supporting aviation colleagues in hotspots.

"The National Police Air Service and the police forces it serves take this offence very seriously and will continue to pursue prosecutions against its own aircraft, as well as supporting airlines and airports in protecting those traveling by air.”

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