POLICE have appealed for information after a pilot was targeted by someone pointing a laser pen at an aircraft.

The plane was flying into Birmingham International Airport when it was targeted by a green laser pen while flying near Malvern.

Air traffic controllers at Swanwick, in Hampshire, contacted West Mercia Police at 7.45pm on Saturday, March 22, to report a green laser had been pointed three times at an Air Hamburg flight cruising at 17,000ft, about three miles up, as it descended into Birmingham.

They believed the source of the laser was somewhere in the Malvern area at 7.30pm the same night.

Police are asking for anyone with information to contact them.

They have warned that even though the light from the pen seems to stop because it is no longer scattered into the user's eyes, it can continue and reach aircraft, putting pilots and the cargo, or passengers, at risk.

The beam can distract pilots, can appear inches bigger than it does from its origin, can be seen more than 12 miles away, and can be mistaken for the aim on a weapon.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said: “Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight is a serious risk to its safety.

"Helicopters are particularly vulnerable as they have a solo pilot, fly low and have a large curved plexiglass windscreen that refracts the laser beam and floods the cockpit with light.

"Being dazzled and temporarily blinded by an intense light could potentially lead to the pilot losing control of the aircraft.

"Pointing a laser at an aircraft is now a specific criminal offence and the police are becoming very good at catching the perpetrators.

"We strongly urge anyone who observes a laser being used at night in the vicinity of an airport to contact the police immediately."

Figures show there were 1,570 laser attacks on aircraft in the UK in 2012, and 1,911 incidents in 2011.

Hotspots for the incidents were in Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds Bradford and Heathrow airports.

There were also 216 attacks on UK passenger aircraft at foreign airports in 2012.

Laser pens are often used during presentations and are battery-powered. They can be bought online for as little as £8.

Anyone caught shining a device at an aircraft could face charges of endangering an aircraft, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Anyone with information, or who may have seen a green laser pointer being used in the area, is asked to contact the police on the non-emergency number, 101, and ask for police in Malvern, quoting reference number 589S 220314.