A LASER pen was shone into the cockpit of an aircraft carrying more than 220 holidaymakers from the Mediterranean back to the North East.
Police are now trying to trace the culprits responsible for the potentially disastrous incident, which happened as the pilot of a commercial Jet2 airline was preparing to land the flight from Crete at Newcastle Airport.
Shining a light or laser at the cockpit of an aircraft can dazzle the pilot and cause a severe safety risk. It is believed a teenage boy could be involved after police responding to the pilot’s reports were also targeted by a laser light while flying the force helicopter in the area of Chester-le-Street in County Durham on September 15.
At about 10.15pm, an officer in the helicopter shared by the Northumbria and Durham forces reported spotted the beam of a laser pen being shone from a house.
Officers on the ground were called in and attended the scene in the village of Pelton Fell and a 17-year-old youth was arrested from a house in Howlett, Pelton Fell.
He was interviewed and released on police bail until October pending further inquiries.
PC Paul Vickers based in Chester-le-Street said: “A number of incidents involving laser pens have been reported to Air Traffic Control at Newcastle Airport over the last several days and these are also subject to the same investigation. We believe someone in the Pelton or Pelton Fell area has recently returned from an unknown country with a number of these pens which have then been sold locally.
“We need to identify whoever has been responsible for the sale of these items.
“Using a laser pen in this fashion could have very serious consequences and we understand similar incidents have taken place over Washington and Birtley recently.”
A second laser pen has since been seized from an address in Grange Villa, County Durham, during a house search for an unrelated matter.
Earlier this year, the Civil Aviation Authority changed the charge concerning laser pens from “recklessly endangering an aircraft” to “shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot”.
Anyone with information that could help the police with their inquiries should ring on 0345 6060 365 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.