Laser attackers endanger pilots at Sliač airport

The police have boosted their presence.

Sliač Airport hosts SIAF, the biggest annual air show in Slovakia.Sliač Airport hosts SIAF, the biggest annual air show in Slovakia. (Source: Sme)

Pilots taking off and landing at Sliač Airport near Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia, have been repeatedly exposed to beams of lights, probably lasers, coming from the ground. To tackle the issue, the police and military police have strengthened their presence in the area to find the perpetrator.

“If caught and convicted they may spend between four and 10 years in prison,” said Danka Capáková, Defence Ministry spokesperson, as cited by the TASR newswire.

Pilots exposed to bright lights, such as lasers, can be temporarily blinded or distracted during critical phases of flight, a situation that poses a safety risk for people on board and the civilian population.

“During such a moment the pilot does not see what is going on and cannot respond properly,” a former pilot told the Plus Jeden Deň daily. “It is the same as when a car going in the opposite direction does not dip their high beam headlights. Simply, you get blinded. This endangers the pilot as well as other people.”

The person or people endangering the pilots in such a manner remain unknown for now. The former pilot thinks that it may be some boys who do not realise what they are doing or somebody who is protesting against the airport and the noise of the jets.

The Transport Office in Slovakia registers about 30 cases annually where a pilot is blinded. This happens not only at the military airport of Sliač but also at the military airports in Kuchyňa, western Slovakia, and Prešov in eastern Slovakia. The civilian airport in Sliač has not reported any such problems, the Sme daily wrote.

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