Pointing lasers at planes? Really? Canada seeks crackdown

Photo courtesy CTV  News.

Photo courtesy CTV News.

I’m utterly astonished.

It was one thing for a bunch of young Canadians on holidays in Malaysia to peel off their clothes and take selfies on a mountain that locals consider sacred. And it was another thing for some goofball Canadian in Florence to pee on the beautiful monument known as Il Duomo the other day, after complaining there weren’t enough washrooms around.

Those are just people being stupid and hurting themselves. But now I see reports on how the Mounties, authorities at Vancouver International Airport and others are seeking a crackdown on folks who point lasers at aircraft.

I know people have done this in the past. But I had no idea it had become commonplace enough on the lower mainland of B.C. that a call to action was needed.

We all want to make our mark on society in some way. And we all like to do things that are a bit naughty now and then. But recklessly pointing lasers at aircraft laden with innocent pilots and flight attendants and mothers and fathers and children is simply inexcusable.

CTV News reports the RCMP in British Columbia have reported at least three such incidents.

“When the light from the laser fills the cockpit, it can cause irreparable damage to the retina if a pilot take a direct hit,” the CTV report said. “The RCMP said nobody was injured in the three cases. Officers tracked the laser pointer to the nearby Steveston area, but weren’t able to find the person responsible.”

CTV News also says a WestJet flight originating from Vancouver was hit by a laser while landing in Ottawa. That plane landed safely, but both pilots suffered eye injuries.

According to Transport Canada, when a laser is directed into an airplane cockpit it can cause the following hazards: distractions for the pilot and co-pilot, glare and temporary flash-blindness.

“In the worst-case scenario, these effects could cause a major accident,” the agency says on its website.

The agency said there were 461 reported incidents last year of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by lasers.

Four hundred and sixty one incidents? And that’s just those reported. That’s unbelievable.

I’m willing to forgive and forget a lot of dumb things people do, but anyone caught endangering lives of innocent people like this should be hung from the back of a 747 and flown on a 16-hour flight to Australia. And preferably dropped from 35,000 feet into a volcano somewhere en route over the Pacific.

The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the industry trade association representing Canada’s largest passenger air carriers, today welcomed the Government of Canada’s launch of Not A Bright Idea, a new public education campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangerous practice of pointing a laser at aircraft.

“We are seeing a troubling increase in the number of laser strikes and this raises serious safety implications for pilots, passengers and people on the ground,” said Marc-André O’Rourke, Executive Director of the NACC. “We hope that by raising awareness of the issue through the Not A Bright Idea campaign, people will think twice before shining a laser at an aircraft.”

While pointing a laser into the cockpit is an offence under the Aeronautics Act, the NACC and the aviation community encourage the federal government to take additional action by making the stunt a criminal offence with stronger penalties and by limiting the availability of more powerful lasers.

Authorities are using the hashtag #NotaBrightIdea for this campaign. It’s clever, I guess. But I’d personally prefer something like #pointalaserandgotoprisonforlife.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment