In recent years there has been an alarming increase in laser incidents involving commercial aircraft. Usually these incidents are reported to the authorities, but do not cause diversions or major operational problems. Well, The Aviation Herald reports on a particularly notable laser incident that occurred earlier this week.
Virgin Atlantic captain injured by laser
Virgin Atlantic flight 453 was scheduled to depart London Heathrow for Tel Aviv on Monday, March 15, 2021. The Boeing 787-9 took off from runway 27L at Heathrow and upon disembarking a laser was aimed at the aircraft which hit the captain.
The pilots reported the incident to ATC, which forwarded the information to the police. The crew decided to continue the flight as it initially looked like the captain was okay.
While the crew was at 41,000 feet over Paris, they decided to return to London as the captain reported that he could only see with one eye and were increasingly challenged. The pilots declared a “PAN” and the flight returned to Heathrow approximately 75 minutes after take-off.
Media reports suggest that the person behind the laser was arrested.
Passengers were significantly delayed as a result of this incident, as the Virgin Atlantic flight to Tel Aviv did not start operating until the next day, about 12 hours later.
This has happened before on Virgin Atlantic
It is interesting to note the similarities between this story and an incident that occurred nearly five years ago, including on a flight with Virgin Atlantic. In 2016, a New York-based Virgin Atlantic A340 declared an emergency over Ireland after a pilot was injured by a laser shortly after takeoff. The plane also returned to London Heathrow.
What an idiot…
What’s wrong with people? What would someone have who points a laser at an aircraft during a critical phase of flight and endangers the well-being of the pilots and passengers? I don’t understand psychology – do you find it funny, are you actually trying to harm pilots and planes or what?
A Virgin Atlantic 787 was forced to return to London Heathrow after a pilot lost vision due to a laser in one eye. The laser was aimed at the aircraft shortly after take-off, and while the pilots initially decided to continue, the captain’s visibility deteriorated as the flight progressed.
Fortunately, it sounds like the authorities arrested the person responsible, so hopefully that person will spend some time behind bars.