Laser attacks on low-flying aircraft are not limited to the U.S. Following recent reports of aircraft targeted near Boston, local news reports in Yorkshire, U.K., have passed along an “urgent appeal” from the local air ambulance operator after what U.K. Yahoo News characterized as an “alarming spike” in laser-related incidents. Last Friday night (Sept. 22), a crew member on a Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) helicopter suffered a burned cornea in one of three attacks that week.
Described as an independent charity organization, YAA has appealed for help in locating the perpetrators. Technical crew member Alex Clark was on board the helicopter during a positioning flight returning to its base airport in Wakefield. Clark is expected to make a full recovery, but YAA chief pilot Owen McTeggart said, “If we get a laser attack while trying to land at the site of an incident, it means we cannot land, and the injured person on the ground doesn’t get the care that we are there to provide. [Even if it does not strike a crew member’s eyes] it is a massive distraction for the crew during a critical stage of flight.”
McTeggart added, “I’m sure most people that point a laser at a helicopter think it’s just a laugh and no harm is caused. But it can, in some cases, have life-changing consequences for the pilot, the crew, and the patient in the back whose life they are trying to save.”
Mike Harrop, YAA Chairman, said: “Our crew shouldn’t feel fearful of flying on a shift at YAA, all because someone somewhere finds it amusing to shine lasers at aircraft, or they are ignorant to the dangers they are putting our crew in.”