An 18-year-old admitting to having shone a laser at a light aircraft using Ponte de Sor airfield (Portalegre) could end up with a 10-year jail sentence.
The youngster was “identified” by GNR police following information from the pilot concerned, who had been aware of someone using a laser on a previous flight.
Says Público, the number of laser attacks on aircraft since 2013 has reaching “more than 1,150 incidents”.
The reason for the potentially tough penalties for offences of this kind is that they are seen to be an “attack on air transport safety”.
Lasers, if shone into pilots’ eyes, can lead to temporary blindness.
President of the Portuguese association of airline pilots Miguel Silveira told Lusa last year that if a laser “hit” coincided with any kind of cockpit problem (engine failure/ emergency landing) momentary incapacity could have devastating consequences.
The worst incident of this kind occurred in Porto two years ago when a Ryanair flight was making its landing from Lille, France, added Público.
The pilot was rendered temporarily blind by a laser directed straight into the cockpit as he was taking his 737-800 in to land, leaving the co-pilot to ‘take over’ while the operation was aborted.