Over the last three months, there have been 17 reported cases of laser pen attacks on aircraft in Moscow alone. Powerful laser pointer beams can reach 9 kilometers or further – a distance equal to the altitude of an average passenger aircraft. A landing aircraft, of course, is that much closer to the source of a laser pen’s beam. Pilots unanimously say that the effect of a laser-pen’s beam in the cockpit is very similar to the effect of a car’s high-beam headlights at a short distance – it blinds you. The decision-making time before a landing is only 10 critical seconds, pilots say — and these moments are not to fight green laser beams, but to make critically important decisions.
Laser-beam hooligans have lost their harmless “hooligan” status. Pilots are quick on the draw and call them terrorists. And statistics show they deserve such a harsh description. The problem is that Russian law does not impose criminal penalties for such laser attacks. If such an attack leads to fatal consequences, the price will be high indeed.