THE public may never learn of the recent UFO sightings made by pilots in our skies thanks to a piece of EU legislation, it has emerged.
Airline staff report a number of strange sightings to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) every year, it is understood.
It’s believed that hundreds of UFO reports are filed every year
Since the MoD closed its UFO desk in 2009, the CAA has become the last British government organisation to retain an interest in UFOs and keep files on incidents involving civilian aircrews.
But it has decided not to release a dossier detailing sightings or incidents between 2011 and 2017.
Government files of this kind are normally available under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows any member of the public to request files from the government.
But the CAA is now using a piece of European legislation from 2014 to block access to its record of “occurences”.
It states: “Occurrence information can only be used for the purpose of maintaining or improving aviation safety, and the release of occurrence information to the general public or the media, including in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, is not permitted.
“However, if you require occurrence information for the purpose of maintaining or improving aviation safety you are able to make an application to the CAA.”
Several of the Ministry of Defence files from the 70s through to 2009 has been released
One of the purposes of the legislation is to protect the identity of pilots who come forward to share details of strange sightings in the sky.
However, information obtained using FOIA is typically “redacted” to remove any identifying features like names and addresses.
Dr David Clarke of Sheffield Hallam University’s department of journalism has previously been granted access to the files, but was shocked when his FOI request was refused earlier this year.
He told The Sun Online: “These have been collected and logged by the CAA since at least 1976.
A sketch of a UFO sighting from a flight from Heathrow which was released in 2013
“But then they seem surprised that curious individuals might want to see details of these incidents using Open Government legislation.
Previous sightings made between the 1970s-1990s before the MoD UFO desk shut in 2009 are publically available
The move to block the release of these records is certain to set conspiracy theorist’s tongues wagging.
With the launch of the realistic Harmony sex robot here’s all you need to know about sex dolls
TECH IT OUT!
From facial recognition to wireless charging, these are the exciting features rumoured to be on the iPhone 8
‘PLUG AND PLAY’ PIRACY
The European Court has made a ruling over Kodi boxes – so can you still use them?
WHOSE ARMADA’S ‘ARDER?
Would the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth win in a fight with Putin’s flagship?
But when quizzed, the Civil Aviation Authority told the Sun Online that the files WERE available – if you could prove you were going to use the information to further safety in the sky.
It is not available to journalists or the general public.
A spokesman said: “The Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme requires individuals and organisations within the aviation industry to report safety occurrences to the CAA, with the intention that these reports are used to constantly improve safety levels.
“Information held by the CAA under the MOR system may be made available, for the purpose of improving aviation safety, subject to completing this application form.”
It’s unclear whether Brexit will open up the files to the public again – but there’s a two year wait until the divorce is settled.