Liverpool airline passengers’ lives are being put at risk by yobs shining blinding lasers into the eyes of pilots as they try to land.
Flight captains have reported nearly 100 incidents in the past two years where cockpits have been dazzled with intense light as planes make their final approach into John Lennon airport.
Figures obtained by the ECHO reveal that 54 laser pen scares were recorded to the watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority, in the 11 months to December this year.
The twisted craze is a scourge of airports around the country – but is particularly a menace at the Speke airport, where there have been more reports of laser attacks than at London Stansted and Edinburgh, the country’s fourth and fifth busiest airports.
The pens can be bought online for as little as £8.
Richard Taylor, from the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The number of incidents of aircraft being attacked by lasers at UK airports, including Liverpool John Lennon, is still far too high.
“These are very serious incidents which endanger the safety of passenger flights and we are determined to stop them happening.
“It is a criminal offence to shine a laser at an aircraft in flight, so anyone who witnesses one being used near an airport should report it immediately to the police.
“We really need the public’s help to stop these dangerous attacks.”
There has been a slight increase on the 93 separate attacks reported at John Lennon Airport in 2013 – where one crew member was left temporarily blinded as his plane descended toward the runway.
A packed Airbus jet was reportedly targeted twice, with the first officer’s vision “impaired” by the strength of the beam. The captain of another flight needed a medical check-up after “a direct strike to the right eye”.
Easyjet and Ryanair flights have both been targeted as they come in to land at altitudes as low as 500ft.
Police helicopters have also been shone at.
PC Andy Shaw, from the National Police Air Service, said: “When the cockpit is flooded with green light, we can’t see properly and the pilot can’t operate the helicopter safely.”
Since 2010, shining a laser or light at an aircraft in flight has been a criminal offence.
In November, William Sprout, 23, was jailed after beaming a laser at a police helicopter as it flew over Warrington.
The aircraft was hovering 1,000 feet above ground when the beam filled the cockpit with green light on two occasions, leaving the pilot and observation crew temporarily disoriented. Sprout, of Morgan Avenue, Warrington was locked up for four months.