Britons caught putting planes at risk by pointing illegal lasers from hotel

Archive photo of a pilot being distracted.
Archive photo of a pilot being distracted. / SUR
  • Suspects face fine of up to 600,000 euros after air traffic controllers in Malaga issued a plea over Twitter to find the culprits when pilots raised the alarm on Tuesday night

Two Britons are facing huge fines after threatening the safety of aeroplanes coming into land at Malaga airport by shining high-powered laser pens into the eyes of the pilots.

The alarm was raised late on Tuesday night when several pilots of passenger aircraft that were coming into land from over the sea at around 11pm reported being distracted by the illegal pointing of lasers into their aircraft.

Air traffic controllers, seeing the risk of a plane being brought down, immediately called police and sent out a message over their Twitter account in an attempt to find the culprit. One pilot, who knew the area, said that they appeared to be coming from the direction of hotels in nearby Torremolinos.

The lasers soon stopped, supposedly as the security services had been called out on the ground to search the area before a potentially catastrophic fatal accident.

Lucky coincidence

By a fortunate coincidence an off-duty police officer staying at the Hotel Don Pablo in Torremolinos saw green laser rays coming from a balcony in the building and took a photograph.

Police image of the seized lasers.

Police image of the seized lasers. / SUR

Hearing news of the alert the next morning, he told colleagues, who used the photograph to work out what floor the dangerous light was coming from.

Two British holidaymakers, a man aged 41 and his 15-year-old son were found with two green laser pens in their room.

The suspects now face a fine of between 30,000 and 600,000 euros for contravening national security laws. Police on Thursday released images of the seized pens.

High-power laser pens are banned from public sale, although they can be found on the internet.

The risk arises as the light can rebound into an aircraft cabin at critical moments of a flight, such as take off and landing, as happened on Tuesday night. “People do it as a game but they don’t think of the damage they could cause”, said a pilots’ representative. The lasers can also cause eye damage.

Pilots have said that these type of incidents with lasers are more common over the summer, particularly during open-air fiestas and concerts.