Virgin Atlantic flight turned back after 'laser incident'

By Shawn Price   |   Feb. 15, 2016 at 3:01 AM

LONDON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A Virgin Atlantic flight heading to New York was turned back Sunday after one of the pilots was effected by a "laser beam incident," the airline said.

When the flight reached the west coast of Ireland, a crew member reported to Irish air traffic controllers there was a "medical issue with one of the pilots after a laser incident after take-off."

London's Metropolitan Police tweeted: "Aircraft forced to return to Heathrow after being hit by a laser strike... #laserstrike CAD4."

The flight returned to London without further incident.

No one has been arrested yet as police as still trying to determine where the laser was shone from.

Laser attacks have jumped dramatically in England in the last six years, Civil Aviation Authority figures show. Beginning in 2010, more than 1,300 incidents have been reported each year.

A British Airways pilot was damaged last year after a "military-strength" laser was pointed into the cockpit of a plane landing at Heathrow.

"Following this incident the first officer reported feeling unwell," said Virgin Atlantic in a statement. "The decision was taken by both pilots to return to Heathrow rather than continue the transatlantic crossing.

"The safety of our crew and customers is our top priority and we apologise for any inconvenience to those on board."

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