In April 2018, a 69-year-old man of Hechtel (Belgium) was arrested after he “pointed” an F-16 on landing with a laser. The Antwerp Court of Appeal has now sentenced the defendant to a fine of 1,200 euros and a six-month suspended prison sentence. The Belgian Defence thus wants to demonstrate the dangers and possible consequences of such behaviour.
“Blinding a pilot endangers him, his aircraft and the lives of dozens of people on the ground,” said Colonel Jeroen Poesen, commander of the Kleine-Brogel airbase. “We are therefore happy that the Ministry of Justice recognises the seriousness of the facts and confirms the decision of the Court of First Instance.”
The Belgian Defence takes this type of offence very seriously and has filed a civil action in this case. “People need to understand that lighting a plane is very dangerous. On night flights, as was the case here, our pilots fly with night vision goggles. They amplify light 50,000 times. During a crucial phase such as landing, laser light can therefore completely blind the pilot.”
Belgian Air Force F-16s are equipped with high-tech cameras and sensors to perform observation tasks, among other things. With the targeting pod, the pilot could identify the origin of the laser beam and the culprit could be caught quickly.
By its judgment, the Antwerp Court of Appeal confirmed on 17 December 2020 the previous judgment of the Court of First Instance of Limburg of 15 June 2019. The defendant was therefore sentenced to a fine of 1,200 euros, a deposit of 200 euros paid to the fund for assistance to victims of assault, a six-month suspended prison sentence with 3 years of probation and 148 euros in court costs.
23 December 2020