Sunday 22 April 2018

Aircraft laser thugs target garda chopper

Pat Flynn

THE crew of a Garda Air Support Unit helicopter was targeted by thugs wielding a potentially blinding laser after officers were sent to investigate an earlier incident involving an airplane that had just taken off from Dublin Airport.

Air traffic controllers at Dublin Airport contacted gardai after the crew of a Ryanair flight to Liverpool reported that a laser was being pointed at the cockpit of their airplane shortly after take-off.

Controllers had also received similar reports from other airplanes earlier in the evening.

At around 11.15pm on Saturday, a garda helicopter was dispatched from its base at Baldonnel Aerodrome to investigate reports about the laser near Malahide in north Co Dublin. As the garda chopper made its way to the scene it, too, was targeted with a laser in the Darndale area.

The helicopter crew advised air traffic controllers that a laser had been aimed at them and that they would attempt to deal with that incident before proceeding to the original report.

The chopper, which is flown by an Air Corps crew but carries garda personnel, tried to locate the suspect while unmarked patrol cars converged on the area. The culprit, however, managed to evade gardai.

A garda spokesman confirmed: "Gardai received a report from air traffic control of an incident involving an aircraft and a laser in the Swords/Malahide area. The Garda Air Support Unit was sent to investigate the reports while ground units were also sent to the area. No arrests were made but gardai are investigating the matter."

Last Wednesday night, a Ryanair flight on approach to Shannon Airport was also targeted by thugs using a laser.

Flight FR109 was flying at 21,000 feet over Clonbollogue, in Co Offaly, when the crew contacted air traffic controllers to inform them that they had observed a laser being aimed at their airplane. The pilots were not affected by the lasers in any of the incidents.

Irish Independent

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