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MOSCOW, September 22 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia this year saw 119 recorded cases of laser attacks by hooligans on aircraft, the deputy director of the transport watchdog Rostransnadzor, Vladimir Chertok, told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
This six-fold increase in the number of cases of blinding pilots in comparison with 2010, when there were 20 such incidents, prompted Rostransnadzor to present proposals to the Ministry of Transport for the introduction of penalties for willful use of lasers: individuals may be punished with 50 thousand rubles or arrested for a period of 15 days.
According Chertok, crews report fairly accurately the coordinates of the sites from where the laser beam come from, which allows the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service to identify violators. "The hooligans are not teenagers, and they are perfectly aware of what they were doing," said Chertok.
Last summer United Russia legislators presented to the State Duma a bill declaring a criminal offence the hooliganism-motivated threats to the safe operation of transport vehicles. In particular, for blinding the pilot of an airliner with a laser pointer one may get seven years in prison.
Chertok said that criminal punishment would be used against those whose actions had resulted in casualties. The proposals for penalties, which Rostransnadzor published on its website for discussion, concern cases of deliberate hooliganism that caused no trouble and the aircraft landed normally.
Chertok sees nothing wrong in equipping pilots with anti-laser glasses, but these must pass all the required flight tests first and on all types of aircraft. This proposal is still under discussion.
According to the deputy chief of the transport watchdog, automatic landing might be a solution to all the problems associated with laser attacks. But for that many of the airfields in Russia and most of the aircraft will have to be re-equipped, said Chertok, and this is a distant future prospect.
Rostransnadzor proposals for increasing fines for violations concern other means of transport, too. At the moment the penalty for individuals is 660 rubles on the average and for legal entities, up to 50 thousand rubles. But this is not an impressive amount for a company, said Chertok.
He also believes that the major penalties in this sector should be aimed at legal entities. The company should be responsible for personnel it has hired and the reasons for which it pays bonuses: for fuel saving economy implying violation of the law or for compliance, said Chertok. There are to be introduced more and more fines for the legal entities that force tired drivers to keep working, who fall asleep at the wheel.