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Hanoi air hub faces laser threats as police search for culprit

Hanoi air hub faces laser threats as police search for culprit

Friday, June 24, 2016, 14:22 GMT+7

Several aircraft approaching Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi since early June have had their safety threatened by laser beams from unknown sources directed at their cockpits, according to a recent report by the Vietnamese aviation watchdog.

The National Committee of Civil Aviation Security (NCCAS) recently announced that four cases of laser beams being directed from the ground into the cockpits of planes flying toward Noi Bai International Airport in the capital have been reported so far this month.

The four incidents, one of which involved a military aircraft on a training mission while the three others were related to commercial flights operated by Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet Air, were reported by cockpit crews between June 2 and 14.

The pilots reported seeing green laser beams being projected from 27 to 40 kilometers west of the airport while they were preparing to land.

All four planes landed safely and the incidents were immediately reported to the police, though the culprit is unidentified after several searches in the area failed to pinpoint the exact origin of the laser beams.

In its report, the NCCAS requested that the Anti-Terrorism Authority in Hanoi adopt measures to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

The act of pointing laser beams towards the cockpit during take-off and landing poses serious threats to civil aviation safety and violates Vietnamese and international laws, as it could temporarily blind pilots, rendering them incapable of controlling the plane, the report said.

Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday, Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Dinh Vu Son said efforts were being made, without success, to scour the suspected area for those responsible for the recent laser attacks.

Son cited Vietnamese laws that state laser guns are considered a supplementary weapon under regulation by law, though the aviation official added that normal laser guns could not have traveled such long distance, as were the cases in these attacks.

“According to reports by pilots, the laser beams had originated from around one kilometer away,” Son said. “At such distance and height, the beam must have been powered by an extremely powerful source to have reached the cockpit."

“Our guess at the moment is that the beams had originated from laser sources used for decoration in art performances or events,” Son added. "To help prevent this from happening in the future, the NCCAS has asked local police forces to request the people not to use laser beams for decoration in areas where flight activities take place."

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