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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 December 2005, 14:28 GMT
Man fired 'rockets' at aircraft
Edinburgh Airport
The planes were fired at as they landed at Edinburgh Airport
A landscaper has admitted blasting fireworks into the path of passenger planes landing at Edinburgh Airport.

Peter Crane, 20, fired the rockets from his back garden in Newbridge on a busy Friday night on 29 October 2004.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct by placing pilots, air crew and passengers in potential danger.

Sentence was deferred for a background report. BAA said incidents of that kind were "grossly irresponsible".

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Malcolm Stewart the exploding rockets could have harmed the landing gear or wiring of the planes or disturbed the pilots at a difficult time of the flight.

Because the passenger planes travel at 130mph, the margin of error is very small
Prosecutor Malcolm Stewart

"There was not only an actual risk of damage but a risk of the pilots being distracted by the noise or sudden flash which could have affected their night vision at this very crucial time," he said.

"Because the passenger planes travel at 130mph, the margin of error is very small and these were the highest category of rockets that can be legally sold to the public."

He added that he was surprised a similar incident had never occurred before.

He told Sheriff Isabella McColl that when the wind blew from the east, planes made their final descent into the airport directly above Crane's home at Riverside in Newbridge.

Air traffic controllers noticed the rockets exploding from about 1930 GMT for several hours until police detained Crane.

'Grossly irresponsible'

The controllers started to warn crews of the hazard and one pilot reported back: "If the last firework had happened a second later we would have been very close to it."

Crane admitted setting off the display but denied that he was intentionally aiming at aircraft.

However, he did admit knowing that planes flew directly above his house, sometimes very low.

BAA spokesperson Malcolm Robertson said: "Clearly we regard any behaviour of the kind which places aircraft and communities at danger as grossly irresponsible."

He added that the flights that night would have been a combination of international and shuttle flights.


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