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Old 23rd Aug 2008, 00:29
  #63 (permalink)  
brassmonkey
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: uk
Posts: 5
One or two ppruners seem to be missing the point (if you pardon the pun) here, there is an existing peice of legislation that already covers this offence.

Whether or not the fricking [email protected] is shone into the cockpit, reflected from the windshield, refracted into the cockpit...the individual to$$er who engages in the act of shining the device commits the substantive offence under section 63 of the Air Navigation Order, namely recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person therein.

The critical part of this legislation that makes it particularly useful in terms of prosecuting these offenders is the fact that their actions do not have to actually produce a dangerous result, and the offender does not need to be on the aircraft to commit the offence. Additionally the actions do not need to be deliberate in terms of ultimate intention either - the legal concepts of recklessness or negligence negate any possible defence such as that pathetic mantra "I didn't know it was dangerous to use a [email protected] I was looking for my dog....etc".

Those fools who think it is funny shining [email protected], powerful torches, fireworks etc at planes, regardless of their own idiotic perceptions can be arrested by police, charged and placed before the courts. The expert testimony of an aircraft captain who is prepared to stand up in the witness box and state that a [email protected] distracted him from his core function of landing an a/c with lots of slf on board is highly likely to be damning and convincing evidence. Custodial sentences are available to the courts and can be used as punitive / deterrent measures. Whilst each case will be judged on individual merits, there is not a huge amount of legal precedent by which to gauge sentencing. Depending on the individual mode of trial (magistrates court or crown court), those found guilty could end up with a stretch behind bars. I don't think many in the judiciary take a light view of endangering a plane full of people.

The bottom line is simple - anyone with a bit of common sense can see the potential consequences of distracting a pilot at a crucial phase of flight such as landing or t/o. We do not need a debate on the relative strengths of different [email protected], or the legitimacy of their designed purposes. We need to take firm action against those individuals who effectively gamble with the safety of aircraft, those on board and those under the flightpath!

On a side issue, I was not surprised that the Home Office were not aware of the available legislation - the ANO is less mainstream legislation (for want of better terminology) and is more likely to fall within the business area of the DFT. The more cynical amongst us may surmise that the legislation was on a memory stick down the back of someones sofa...
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