Dangers of aiming a laser at an aircraft or into airspace


2023-03-13 14:36 PDT

File # 2023-12511

The Kelowna RCMP is reminding the public to never aim a laser at or near any aircraft or into airspace.

Recently, airlines flying in and out of YLW in Kelowna have reported someone pointing a laser at the aircraft causing unnecessary delays or issues for pilots, crews and passengers. As a matter of fact, last week a flight had to be cancelled after the pilot was unable to continue flying due to the effects of a laser strike.

Incidents of lasers aimed at aircraft continue to threaten aviation safety in Canada. There were 1,965 laser attacks reported to Transport Canada and published in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) between January 2015 and the end of December 2019. These are disturbing statistics and it means the safety of pilots, crew and passengers have been put at risk during each laser attack.

Hand-held laser devices that are available on the market now are incredibly powerful. The new generation of lasers can generate power of up to five-watts, or 5,000 times the power of keychain laser pointers which were popular in the 1990s. These dangers include distracting the pilot, creating glare that affects the pilot’s vision and possibly temporarily blinding the pilot.
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a criminal offence. Under the Aeronautics Act, people convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft could face up to $100,000 in fines and/or five years in prison, said Cst. Mike Della-Paolera Kelowna RCMP Media Relations Officer. Actions like this could possibly cause a catastrophic event or unnecessary harm to someone.

Kelowna RCMP also want to remind the public that flying a drone within five kilometres of an airport is extremely dangerous and is illegal.

If you have any information of someone participating in this extremely dangerous activity, please report it to the Kelowna RCMP by calling 911 or the non emergency number at (250) 762-3300. You can also report anonymously by contacting the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net.

Released by:

Cst. Mike Della-Paolera
Media Relations Officer
Kelowna RCMP
1190 Richter Street, Kelowna, BC V1Y 6V7
Office No.: 250-859-1470
Email: Kelowna_Media@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Website: kelowna.rcmp.ca

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