BA co-pilot's eye damaged in laser attack

A co-pilot for British Airways has been partially blinded by a laser shone into his eye during a flight landing, according to a pilot’s group.

British Airways flight forced to return to Belfast.

British Airways. Image by Russell Lee Photography / CC BY-SA 2.0

The British Airline Pilots’ Association has said the man was left unable to fly after the incident earlier this year, reports The Independent, in which an allegedly military strength laser was shone into his eyes while landing at Heathrow Airport in London. He required treatment for a damaged retina.

The association claims that one in two pilots have been targeted by lasers in the last year. Similar incidents have been reported around the world as the accessibility of strong lasers has grown.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reporter earlier in November that more than 20 aircraft were struck by lasers over 16 US cities in two days, according to the Washington Post. In the US, shining a laser is a federal crime and more than 5300 cases were reported in 2015 so far.

An airplane pilot was left with permanent damage due to a military strength laser that was shone in his eyes.

An airplane pilot was left with permanent damage due to a military strength laser that was shone in his eyes. Image by Helmuts Guigo / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lasers aren’t the only threat from the ground that have aviation officials and pilots concerned. Drones have also grown rapidly in accessibility and popularity and pose a risk to flights.

Drones pose more of a hazard to plane and helicopters on impact than birds, which have caused crashes in the past, according to a recently released study release by Aero Kinetics Aviation, an aerospace and defence firm.

With fears that drones can impact commercial flights, a task force in the US released a report this week, recommending to the FAA that drones weighing more than nine ounces be registered with the FAA. However, members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics criticized the idea and claimed it is unnecessary and unjustified for hobbyists who have been flying small drones for years to register with the government.

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