Green lasers pointing at aircraft have been depicted from a Saltair residence. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Police working with Transport Canada to investigate laser interference of aircraft

Source pinpointed to the Saltair area

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP is working with Transport Canada to investigate interference from a laser pointed at an aircraft on July 28.

An air traffic controller reported that day a pilot flying at night around 5,000 feet had been “lasered,” meaning a beam from a laser pointer was directed at an aircraft. The location was pinpointed to somewhere in a Saltair neighbourhood.

The laser strike lasted about 20 seconds and appeared to be from a stationary location. Front-line police officers have done patrols of the zone where the beam was thought to originate, but were unable to establish who was involved due to the large possible area and the lack of specific coordinates.

“Laser strikes on aircraft are a serious concern as they can cause temporary blinding of air crew,” noted North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Swain. “Especially at night, laser strikes can lead to a possible loss of control of aircraft, posing a danger to people on the aircraft and the general public. These incidents need to stop immediately.”

Police are urging the public to provide more details about this incident or any similar occurrences. Anyone who has been the subject of a laser pointer while flying is also encouraged to call police and provide details about when and where it happened.

People can provide more information by calling the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522. To remain anonymous, contact Cowichan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.cowichancrimestoppers.com

According to Transport Canada, no one can possess a hand-held laser pointer over one milliwatt outside of a private dwelling within a 10-kilometre radius of an airport or certified heliports.

Lasering any aircraft and intentionally interfering with the performance of flight crew to perform its duties is a criminal offence punishable upon conviction with significant fines, incarceration or both.

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