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LASER BEAM IDIOT TARGETS PLANE DURING LANDING; Crew alerted aviation body.

Byline: PAT FLYNN

A JET was targeted this week by thugs using a potentially lethal laser as the aircraft came in to land.

It emerged yesterday that crew on a Ryanair flight from London to Shannon reported that a laser beam was aimed at their aircraft just before they were due to touch down.

Ryanair declined to comment on the incident, which took place at around 9.35pm on Wednesday, but it is understood the aircraft was at 21,000ft over Co Offaly when the crew contacted air traffic controllers.

The pilot said the laser beam appeared to be coming from a village about five miles off the aircraft's left wing. The Air Accident Investigation Unit of the Department of Transport confirmed it had been informed.

A spokesman said: "The aircraft was over Clonbullogue when the crew reported a laser pointed at the aircraft from their nine or 10 o'clock position from a village approximately five nautical miles from their position.

"The AAIU will only investigate where the flight crew report that the illumination had a particular bearing on the operation and safety of the flight. To date we have not had such a report."

Laser pointers are widely available on the internet and can be picked up cheaply in many European holiday resorts.

They send a dazzling red or green beam up to 20 miles which can temporarily blind a person and cause disorientation for a time.

The Irish Aviation Authority described the malicious use of lasers against planes as "extremely reckless behaviour with potentially serious consequences".

The Irish Airline Pilots Association has called for such lasers to be classified as weapons making it illegal to possess one except under licence.

Last July in Belfast, a 17-year-old boy was charged with endangering an aircraft's safety after pointing a laser into its cockpit.

CAPTION(S):

TARGET A Ryanair jet
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2010
Words:309
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