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Netherlands: Pilots call for criminal penalties

The Dutch pilots' association VNV wants it made a criminal offense to shine a laser beam in a pilot's face. The organization will be talking with the Justice and Transport ministries.

The VNV says pilots at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport are increasingly being harassed by people on the ground shining laser beams into their cockpits. Several dozen incidents have been reported to the border police, air traffic control and the VNV. The police have recently been patrolling the area around Schiphol more often on the lookout for people with laser pointers.

The pilots' association says the problem has actually existed for about ten years but nobody has ever been arrested. A few years ago they approached the government about it but nothing was done.

The VNV now gives special advice to pilots about laser beams and how to respond to light shining in their faces during landing. A powerful laser light is visible in an airliner's cockpit from 1200 meters off the ground. At 300 meters and lower it can seriously impair the pilot's vision.

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide