August 19, 2009
Greek Pilots Warn Against Laser Pen Use
A group of pilots in Greece on Wednesday urged for the banning of laser pens during landings, citing an increased threat of momentary blindness during landing.
"It usually happens during night-time landings, Grigoris Constantellos, the president of the Civil Aviation Pilots' Union told the Greek daily Kathimerini newspaper.
"When a plane comes in for landing, the lights in the cockpit are dimmed so the pilots can see the runway. Their pupils are dilated so if a laser is shone in their eyes then the pilots are momentarily blinded."
Constantellos told AFP that the pranks have been ongoing for about two years and have become "fashionable" among young teens.
The most recent incident occurred Saturday, when two boys aged 13 and 14 were arrested for shining a laser pointer into the cockpit of an incoming plane causing a pilot to abandon a landing at the Dodecanese island's Diagoras Airport.
"When a plane comes in for landing, the lights in the cockpit are dimmed so the pilots can see the runway. Their pupils are dilated, so if a laser is shone in their eyes, the pilots are momentarily blinded," Constantellos told Kathimerini.
"These few seconds could prove fateful, especially if there are poor weather conditions, strong winds or if the plane has a fault, in which case the possibility of an accident is extremely high."
One week prior to Saturday's event, authorities arrested a 16-year-old on Crete for shining a laser pen at pilots attempting to land at Iraklio's Nikos Kazantzakis Airport.
According to Kathimerini, the Thessaloniki prosecutor's office has launched an investigation and asked police to keep an eye out for attempted laser pointer pranks after Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport reported that between 30 and 35 pilots had claimed to have laser pens pointed in their direction during landing.