An Icelandic Coastguard helicopter was last night put at serious risk when it was targeted by a laser beam.
The laser was shone onto the left-hand side of the aircraft as it flew over a residential area of Reykjavík on its way to Vestmannaeyjar. If the beam had hit the front of the helicopter, it could have blinded the pilots. It was on its way to pick up a patient on the islands.
The call for an airlift came from the islands at between 8 and 9:00 pm, but poor visibility meant an ambulance plane would not be able to land. The Coastguard helicopter TF-GNÁ took off to collect the patient just before 10:00 last night and had a laser pointed at it shortly afterwards. A statement from the Coastguard says that the helicopter crew are all unanimous in saying that a very serious situation would have occurred, had the laser hit the front windows.
RÚV reports that the helicopter landed at Vestmannaeyjar airport without further incident just before 11:00 and brought the patient to Reykjavík barely half an hour later. The patient was then taken to Landspítali hospital by Hringbraut.
It was the fifth time this year so far that the Coastguard have needed to operate medical flights to the Vestmannaeyjar islands.
International headlines have been made by lasers being pointed at aircraft, and there are examples of planes having to make unscheduled landings as a result. There is some discussion at the Nordic and European level about potentially banning laser pointers.