PLANES at one of Scotland’s busiest airports are increasingly being targeted by yobs with laser pens.
Cases at Edinburgh airport have almost tripled in recent years, with aviation bosses warning that the “phenomenal growth” was potentially putting lives at risk.
So far, 37 cases have been reported this year. In 2010 there were 52 reports of laser pens being shone into cockpits, an increase from the 16 incidents in 2009. In 2007 there were no cases.
The pens can disorientate or even temporarily blind as they come in to land.
Police have investigated nine incidents in the last month alone.
On September 5, an easyJet Airbus A319 from Stansted reported a green beam being shone at the cockpit at about 10.45pm.
Just four days previously, another pilot reported seeing a laser pen in the Cramond area of the city. At the end of April, similar incidents were reported in Silverknowes and Livingston.
In most cases the pilots as they came into land, when they rapidly descend.
All major airlines including Ryanair, British Airways, Flybe and Jet 2 have been affected.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, which is in charge of air traffic control at Edinburgh Airport, said: “The growing number of attacks on aircraft at airports like Edinburgh are part of a global phenomenon.
“Dazzling a pilot with a laser during critical phases of flight, such as take off and landing creates a very real safety risk.
Shining lasers at aircraft is now a specific criminal offence. If you are caught you will be prosecuted. We urge members of the public who witness a laser being used near an airport to contact the police.”
A police spokesman said they treated all incidents “extremely seriously”.
“Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aeroplane or into the eyes of a motorist is not only irresponsible, but dangerous. Anyone responsible for such actions will be reported to the procurator fiscal.”
Those caught targeting planes can be jailed. Last September 28-year-old Romanian Radu Moldovan was jailed for four months after shining a laser beam onto a Tornado fighter jet as it came swooped in to land at RAF Leuchars in Fife.
The craze is not just limited to planes. The figures also revealed that across Edinburgh there have been nearly 600 incidents involving laser pens over the past four years, including shining the lights in people’s faces and at cars.