Magpas reports two laser attack incidents in November
The air ambulance is now hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of misusing lasers
UK-based Magpas Air Ambulance has reported that its AW169 helicopter was subjected to two separate laser attacks in November.
The two incidents occurred on Sunday 19 November and Sunday 26 November. On both occasions, the helicopter had been returning to its base at RAF Wyton near Huntingdon after responding to an emergency.
The provider, which serves Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and the wider East of England region, says it hopes to raise awareness of the extreme dangers of targeting aircraft with lasers.
Lasers can be potentially blinding for pilots
Magpas Air Ambulance pilot Captain Chris Sherriff said: “The effects of the laser depends on what type of laser it is and unless you’re an expert, you’ll rarely know the extent of the damage it can cause. From temporary short term loss of vision to serious permanent damage, a laser attack can not only be extremely dangerous in the moment, when multiple lives are in your hands as the pilot, but it can also have a severe long term, debilitating impact too.”
Laser attacks are a criminal offence under UK law, incurring potential penalties of up to five years imprisonment as well as large fines for endangering an aircraft.
Sherriff added: “We obviously hope that no one is doing this maliciously or intending to cause any harm – and you can often see the beam in the sky or it lights up the cockpit first and alerts you to the danger. However, it’s important to remember that what may seem like innocent fun, could have extremely serious consequences for all involved.”
Magpas, which currently operates out of two bases – its operations base at RAF Wyton, and its primary headquarters in Huntingdon – is in the process of developing a new purpose-built facility in Alconbury. The site, due for completion in 2022, will serve as the organization’s new headquarters, training centre and air base.