Pope Francis's jet struck by laser beam on landing in Mexico City

The UK is considering declaring more powerful laser pens 'offensive weapons' because they pose a serious threat to pilots

The use of laser beams against aeroplanes is a growing problem
The use of laser beams against aeroplanes is a growing problem

A laser beam fired from the ground struck the plane carrying Pope Francis to Mexico for the start of his five-day tour, the airline has said.

Italian carrier Alitalia issued a statement saying the plane's pilots had notified air traffic controllers over the incident.

No one on board was harmed and the plane landed in Mexico City as planned, arriving in the country via Cuba on Friday.

It is understood that a number of other planes arriving at the airport were also affected.

Alitalia said: "The captain immediately informed the control tower of what he had seen, as per normal procedure. It is up to the control tower to inform the competent authorities."

Pope shouts at crowd

Laser beams can lead to temporary blindness in pilots and, in some cases, pilots have reported eye injuries that required medical treatment.

Pilots in the UK have called for lasers to be treated as "offensive weapons" after a beam shone at a New York-bound plane forced the aircraft to return to Heathrow.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said the use of laser beams against aeroplanes was a growing problem which requires government attention.

"This is not an isolated incident," said Jim McAuslan, Balpa's general secretary. "Aircraft are attacked with lasers at an alarming rate and with lasers with ever-increasing strength."

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said up to 20 aircraft flying over the US and its territories were being struck by lasers every night.

Francis concludes his trip to Mexico on Wednesday, visting a prison and the US border.

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