LIVES are being put in “severe danger” by pranksters shining lasers at passenger planes near Southampton Airport.

Police have been called twice in two days to reports that green laser beams are being directed at aircraft flying over the Eastleigh area.

Now there are fears the lives of passengers and crew are being put at risk with the lights capable of causing glare in the cockpit and – at higher levels – temporary ‘flash blindness’.

If caught, offenders can face up to five years in jail under the Air Navigation Act 2009.

The first incident was reported on November 11 at around 5.20pm when a laser was directed at the cockpit of a plane flying at 7,000 ft. It is believed the light was coming from the north-west area of Eastleigh.

A second incident took place the following night at around 7pm when a light was shone at an aircraft travelling at 400ft.

A police spokesman said: “Through our plotting of the strikes we believe the lasers are being shone from around the South Hiltingbury area.

These incidents put the aircraft and lives of crew and passengers in severe danger.

“Endangering an aircraft will not be tolerated.

“We are proactively working to identify who is responsible, prevent further incidents and those responsible can expect a robust response. It is a criminal offence to shine laser pens at aircraft and those responsible face possible arrest and prosecution.

“I’m sure someone in the Eastleigh area knows who is responsible and I would urge them to contact us on 101 immediately.”

Even though laser pens project small dots close up, at longer distances, the beam can be many inches across and the light can spread out further on hitting the windscreen of cockpits.

Southampton Airport declined to comment about the two incidents.

Witnesses or anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.