More than 1,400 incidents of lasers being directed at aircraft have been reported in 2015, according to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The figure is slightly lower than similar incidents reported a year ago.
According to the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) the use of powerful lasers has increased the number of accidents of a serious nature. The CAA estimates there were a total of 1,439 laser incidents in 2015, as opposed to 1,447 incidents in 2014. But pilots of the National Police Air Service have reported only 91 laser incidents in 2015 and 35 in 2014.
Earlier in February, the CAA revealed that between 2009 and 2015 more than 8,998 laser incidents involving aircraft were reported across the country. Lasers are meant for professional use as pointers in industries such as construction, medicine and research. There are four kinds of laser devices, of which the most powerful types are the Class 4 and Class 4M, used in surgery, research and by the military.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live Stephen Landells, a flight safety specialist at Balpa said, "If you shine even the weakest laser at an aircraft, you can dazzle and distress the pilot at a critical stage of flight."
"We need to educate people. It's not only illegal, you are actually endangering people's lives when you shine a laser at an aircraft. We're looking to try and get the law changed to take into account the fact that these lasers can be used as weapons," Landells added.
Pilot Janet Alexander said, "A concentrated laser beam into the cockpit is analogous to a lighting strike. We're not talking about the things you use in lectures... we're talking about the sort of things you might see at an open air music festival or something like that."
"Even if it doesn't hit your retina, it's very dazzling and you do momentarily lose your vision," added Alexander.
A spokeswoman from the Home Office said that the UK has strict laws for dealing with people using lasers against aircraft carelessly and anyone found doing so would face up to five years in prison. The CAA has urged the public to contact the police immediately if they were to notice a laser being used in the vicinity of an airport.