Highlands & Islands

Search and rescue pilot calls for tougher laser pen controls

Pilot in aircraft cockpit under attack from laser pen
Image caption Laser pen beams are dangerous to flight crews

The chief pilot of the Highlands' search and rescue helicopter has backed calls for tougher controls on laser pen ownership.

Cpt John MacIntyre was targeted on an emergency mission during a search over the River Ness earlier this month.

He said it could have had catastrophic consequences: "We had very bright green light bouncing around the cockpit."

His comments came after a pilot had treatment when a beam hit him in the eye during take-off at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic said the New York-bound flight returned to the west London airport as a "precautionary measure" after the co-pilot reported feeling unwell.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has called for tighter legal controls on the sale and possession of lasers.

'Damage our eyes'

Speaking to BBC Scotland about the incident he was involved in earlier this month, Cpt MacIntyre said: "It's really, very unpleasant. It's a huge distraction for us as air-crew.

"We're there looking for somebody in the water, and we can't because we're trying to shield our eyes.

"That's one of the outcomes. The worst outcome of course is that it can damage our eyes and mean that we're unable to fly the aircraft."

He added: "In a congested area like that, for us to come down in the aircraft would just be catastrophic."

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites