Bid to Ban Lasers Targeting Airliners Proposed in U.K. Commons

  • Tory lawmaker Rehman Chishti introduces bill in Parliament
  • Pilots concerned by lasers shone at planes near Heathrow

A proposal to ban laser pens that have been used to target airplanes near London’s Heathrow Airport was put forward in the U.K. House of Commons.

The bill, presented Wednesday by Rehman Chishti from the governing Conservative Party, aims to “make the sale, ownership and use of portable laser-emitting devices with output power of more than 1 milliwatt unlawful in certain circumstances.” As a so-called private member’s bill, the measure is only likely to be given sufficient time in Parliament for debate if the government itself decides to promote it. A first discussion of the bill is scheduled for April 22.

A British Airways flight from Amsterdam and a Virgin Atlantic plane headed to New York were targeted on separate occasions near Heathrow last month by lasers shone at them, the U.K.’s Press Association newswire reported. The Virgin flight returned to the London airport.

“Aircraft are attacked with lasers at an alarming rate and with lasers with ever-increasing strength,” Jim McAuslan, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said in a statement last month. “Modern lasers have the power to blind, and certainly to act as a huge distraction and to dazzle the pilots during critical phases of flight.”

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