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Man arrested after shining laser at aircraft in south of France

The man was found to have bought an illegal, powerful laser online. He said he had become exasperated at the training plane

An image concept of a man shining a laser into an aircraft cockpit

Shining lasers into aircraft cockpits is highly illegal and can cause blindness in pilots Pic: riopatuca / Shutterstock

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to blind a pilot with a laser at the airport of  Béziers-Cap d'Agde, Hérault, Occitanie.

The man had reportedly become exasperated with the noise of a training plane at the airport, and was found to have shone a laser several times deliberately into the cockpit of the small plane at around 22:30.

As a result, the pilot was unable to continue his exercises and had to cancel his approach, climbing in altitude again to wait for safer conditions.

The four-person crew were reportedly very shocked by the appearance of the laser, as such an attack can cause a pilot to experience blindness and risk a crash.

The alleged perpetrator was arrested in Cers by the Montpellier air transport brigade, la Brigade de gendarmerie des transports aériens (BGTA) of Montpellier, on July 4, after the crew shared details of the incident.

Details of the case have only just been released.

After the incident, an investigation was launched by the Chief J.H. of the BGTA, who was quickly able to identify the suspected individual. 

This enabled him to be arrested, and his equipment to be seized. The laser was found to be a powerful device, purchased on the internet. The arrested man said he had become exasperated at the aeroplane’s training laps.

Unit commander Lieutenant Peiffer told Midi Libre: “Faced with the resurgence of this type of event against commercial and general aviation aircraft, the trade and possession of lasers are strictly regulated. 

“Possessing or using a laser of a class higher than 2 is punishable by six months imprisonment and a fine of €7,500.”

The arrested man now risks these criminal sanctions.

Lieutenant Peiffer said that shining lasers at aircraft can cause severe danger. He said: “The aircraft, generally airliners, are thus put in danger and forced to interrupt their manoeuvre. 

“In addition to the risk of crashing, the laser also threatens the health of pilots, since irreversible eye damage can be caused by exposure to the beam, recalls the gendarmerie officer, and in the event of complete blindness of the pilots, the risk of an air accident is major.”

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