7 laser attacks, 2 crashes and a near miss over city

Runway 26 at City of Derry Airport.
Runway 26 at City of Derry Airport.

SEVEN laser attacks, a near miss between a passenger jet and light aircraft over the city and two crashes were amongst twenty-six incidents in the Londonderry area reported to the Civic Aviation Authority (CAA) over the past four years, the Sentinel can reveal.

Back in August 2010, a student pilot dropped a Robinson R22 helicopter from a height of around twenty feet.

“The student was unable to maintain control and the helicopter then struck the ground, rolled onto its side and was substantially damaged,” the CAA reported.

Coincidentally, the only other crash, which involved a light Cessna 152 aircraft also occurred that month.

On this occasion another student pilot was returning to Londonderry following a solo cross country exercise and on final approach reported that he flared too high causing the aircraft to touch down and bounce back into the air.

On touching down the second time the plane “veered to the right and ran off the side of the runway onto the grass.”

The crash resembles a similar incident involving a Cessna 152 in Tyrone, which was reported in the Sentinel earlier this year.
Last September a Londonderry based aeroplane swerved to avoid power lines and buildings during a botched landing in County Tyrone.

Alarmingly, both passenger jets and police helicopters have been targeted in seven reported laser attacks over Londonderry since 2009.

On seven separate occasions incidents were reported to the CAA, with pilots being forced on occasion to take evasive action.

The first incident on April 2009 involved a police helicopter.

One teenager was charged in relation to that incident. His solicitor said in court he had been charged with an offence “usually reserved for shoe bombers.”

The most recent laser attack occurred on January 27, 2013, and involved a Boeing 737.

The CAA also revealed that a Cessna narrowly missed a passenger jet ‘overhead the city’ in July 2012.

The CAA recorded: “The Airprox occurred in Class G uncontrolled airspace west of Londonderry/Eglinton aerodrome when a B737 departing R/W26 in the climb to flight level 250 came into proximity with the C172 at 2,300 feet manoeuvring overhead the city.”

Neither air traffic control nor the pilot of the passenger jet knew the plane was there.

Apparently, the student pilot of the Cessna had become lost.

Other safety incidents included two bird strikes and two separate trepasses on the runway at City of Derry Airport. On one occasion two quad bikes were reported on the runway.