3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Pilot Magazine today click here

Virgin flight returns to Heathrow after pilot dazzled by laser

PUBLISHED: 11:56 16 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 February 2016

A New York bound flight from Heathrow was forced to return to the airport on 14 February so a paramedic could examine the co-pilot who was injured with a laser.

The aircraft was only minutes into its flight when the incident is said to have occurred, it continued on route towards New York but eventually decided to return after requesting permission from air traffic control.

In the audio between the Virgin pilot and air traffic control the pilot states that there was an incident with a laser after takeoff that took place six or seven miles outside of London.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said the flight landed safely and the airline was now working with the authorities to identify the source of the laser. “The VS025 travelling from London Heathrow to New York JFK flight has returned to Heathrow as a precautionary measure due to a laser beam incident.”

Metropolitan police officers have stated they are working to determine where the laser was shone from and that no one had been arrested. In 2010, a law was passed in the UK to prevent ‘shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot’. If the distraction or dazzle is serious, a person may be found guilty of “reckless endangerment” and jailed under the legislation.

According to the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), a laser can result in temporary vision loss associated with flash blindness – a ‘visual interference that persists after the source of illumination has been removed’ – as well as an after-image, which is an ‘image left in the visual field after exposure to a bright light’, and glare.

Between 2009 and June 2015 there were roughly 9,000 laser incidents across the country reported to the CAA. Heathrow had the highest number of incidents involving lasers in the first six months of last year with 48, closely followed by Birmingham with 32.

A CAA spokesman has said “Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight could pose a serious safety risk and it is a criminal offence to do so. We strongly urge anyone who sees a laser being used at night in the vicinity of an airport to contact the police immediately.”

More from News


Airways Aviation Academy, a global flight training academy, has signed an agreement to pre-order 10 Elixir training aircraft

Read more

Multi Pilot Simulations (MPS) has been contracted by Skyborne, a brand new airline pilot training academy based in the UK, to deliver the world’s first fixed-base B737 MAX simulator for its new, state-of-the-art training centre at Gloucestershire Airport

Read more
Yesterday, 17:26

The society have already voiced their opposition to the CAA’s decision to impose controlled airspace around Farnborough Airfield and are now accepting donations to fund their challenge

Read more
Wed, 14:49

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA) has launched a major inquiry into UK airspace and how it is managed with the report and hearings to be chaired by Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Long Wing variant of the Europa XS has received approval from the UK LAA. Europa are also offering a special discount on Long Wing kits

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

The CAA has identified an emerging trend of rough running Gypsy Major engines and even engine failures. These are believed to be caused by the use of 100LL avgas in Gypsy Major engines, and the CAA is contacting owners of aircraft powered by these engines with updated maintenance advice

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

FLARM Technology and uAvionix have announced a partnership to collaborate on Electronic Conspicuity (EC) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) solutions for manned and unmanned aircraft

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

Jon was awarded the scholarship at the LAA Rally which took place at Sywell Aerodrome over the first weekend on September

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

Here’s what’s happening across Great Britain for all of you aviation lovers this September

Read more
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Two new flying scholarships for 2019 are being offered by the Nick Davidson Memorial Trust charity based at London Biggin Hill Airport

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Pilot weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

Subscribe or buy Pilot Magazine