Laser beam hooligan ends up at police gunpoint

A Moscow citizen suspected of blinding pilots taking off from the city’s Vnukovo Airport has been detained by police.

The 24-year-old is believed to have attacked pilots landing at Vnukovo airport using laser pointers. Two laser pointers were found in his flat during a search.

Over the last three months, there have been 17 reported cases in Moscow of laser attacks on pilots. Two of these were during recent week at Vnukovo airport.

In the Urals region, an 11-year-old boy has confessed to attacking a passenger plane with a laser pen.

He says he found the device by the roadside and wanted to test it out. At night, the boy directed a green beam at a jet carrying 30 people, which was in the process of landing. The pilot noticed the beam but managed to land safely.

“It’s like seeing the distant lights of a car that’s driving ahead of you,” pilot Evgeny Gasanov told RT. “And it happened at night, so we could have been badly blinded. We saw where the laser beam was coming from and tried not to look in its direction. This is how we managed to land. But if we’d been flying lower, the incident might have ended in disaster.”

The boy’s parents now face administrative charges for allowing him out alone at night.

Russian MP’s are currently debating criminal penalties of up to 10 years in jail for laser attacks.  The maximum sentence will be handed out if a laser-pen attack has fatal consequences.

Chechnya has just banned the sale of laser pens, following an attack on a pilot there. Similar measures are also being discussed in some Russian regions.

Such incidents are common not only in Russia. In the US there were 2,836 reported laser stunts as planes were taking off or landing in 2010 alone.

So far in 2011, pilots have reported over 1,100 such incidents in the US. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would impose fines of up to $11,000 per violation.

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