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Scotland: UPDATED - Investigators "not ruling out" laser in Glasgow pub helicopter crash

Lasers are being considered as a possible factor in the November 29 2013 fatal crash of a police helicopter into the Clutha pub in Glasgow, Scotland. The Daily Mail reports that “investigators refused to rule out foul play as they examined possible causes of the crash, including whether the pilot was shot at or blinded by a ‘laser pen’.”

While early reports indicated there may have been an engine malfunction, the paper wrote “... there were also fears the horrific accident could have been caused by a powerful green laser beam from a pen-like device shone into the eyes of the pilot – or even a firearm. There have been an increasing number of near-misses caused by the blinding laser devices in recent months.”

No witnesses or other evidence have thus far emerged to implicate the aiming of lasers at the aircraft as a contributing factor. The Daily Mail said Police Scotland investigators “will ‘retain an open mind.’”

From a December 1 article in the Daily Mail, updated 2:24 EST on Dec. 2.

LaserPointerSafety.com has a selected list of laser/aircraft incidents in
Scotland and in the U.K. Additional incidents, in other countries and sorted by various keywords, can be found by clicking the blue category and tag links in the News Index section on the left-hand side of the white part of this page.

UPDATED - December 3 2013: An article in the Scotsman, speculating on causes of the crash, includes this quote: “Charles Newport, consultant for Aviation Network Associates, said: ‘Quite possibly it could be pilot error, that’s the only other factor I can think of. The aircraft could have been flying too low and the pilot could have become disorientated. He could have been blinded by a laser. To me, it seems to be a catastrophe of some sort, unless the pilot had a heart attack. Until they look at the body and carry out pathology tests, and look at the aircraft, there’s little you can do apart from speculate.’”

UPDATED - February 14 2014: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch released a Special Bulletin, stating the accident occurred when both engines flamed out. One of the fuel tanks was empty and the other had 0.4 kg of fuel left in it. From a Wikipedia article about the crash

UPDATED - June 2 2014: An Edinburgh man was sentenced to 240 hours of community service for aiming his green laser pen at the police helicopter on October 1 2013. There is no link between that incident, and the same helicopter crashing into the pub on November 29 2013.