NEWS

Laser pens a risk to planes

Air-traffic controllers yesterday told an industry conference that the increasing frequency with which some people are directing laser pointers at airplane cockpits could result in a disaster at one of the country’s airports. The experts told the conference, on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, that there had been nearly 400 instances of people shining laser pens at airplanes since last October. In most cases, it is commercial airliners that are being targeted by the perpetrators, most of whom are believed to be teenagers, they said. According to statistics from the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority, 152 planes flying over Athens International Airport have been targeted by laser pens, 84 over Thessaloniki airport, 62 over Crete’s Iraklio airport, 31 over Corfu and 15 over Rhodes. Experts say that the laser pens, available on the market for as little as 10 euros, are extremely dangerous, as they momentarily blind the pilot when shone into the cockpit from the ground. The laser pens with a green light are reportedly more dangerous than those issuing white or blue light.