January 12, 2023 By The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Police say a holiday-themed projector was the source of a laser light that lit up the cockpit of a passenger jet last week as it was landing at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
The RCMP say concerned citizens living near the airport came forward Tuesday to confirm that a laser projector on their property had recently fallen over and was pointing at the sky.
The Mounties say they believe there was no intention to aim the device at the approaching aircraft, which landed around 7 a.m. on Jan. 2.
At the time, the pilots reported the incident to air traffic control, saying a green laser beam had entered the flight deck as they were preparing to touch down.
The pilots told police that the light came from an area near the golf course on Old Guysborough Road.
The RCMP later said that pranksters who point laser pens at aircraft can temporarily blind the crew and endanger everyone aboard. Those caught doing so face criminal charges under the Aeronautics Act, which come with a maximum fine of $100,000 or five years in prison, or both.
Transport Canada recorded 236 laser strikes on aircraft in 2020. That was up from 211 reports in 2018.
In November 2021, the U.S. flight safety regulator issued a statement urging people to make sure their laser-light displays were aimed at their homes, not the sky. The Federal Aviation Administration said it receives reports every year from pilots distracted or temporarily blinded by residential laser displays.
“You might not realize this, but a well-meaning attempt to spread holiday cheer has the potential to create a serious safety risk to pilots and passengers on airplanes that fly overhead,” the U.S. agency said.
“The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than you might realize …. Many high-powered lasers can completely incapacitate pilots.”
In 2021, the agency said it received 9,700 reports about laser lights striking aircraft — the highest number of laser strikes recorded since it began tracking incidents in 2010.