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Canada: Pilots want lasing aircraft to be a crime

The president of the Canada section of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has said that lasing an aircraft in Canada should be made a criminal offense, and the government should launch an information campaign to discourage misuse. He also said high-powered lasers should have warning labels and require permits to use them.

Tim Perry made his proposals May 11 2020 after a Jazz Aviation pilot was hospitalized due to being illuminated by laser light on approach to Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, on February 15 2020. The laser source was about three nautical miles from the aircraft. The co-pilot of the de Havilland DHC-8-300 passenger aircraft had to turn control over to the captain, who was able to land without incident. The co-pilot was taken to hospital as a precaution due to actual or potential injuries. No additional information was made available by Jazz due to privacy restrictions.

Perry said that other Canadian aviators have actually suffered permanent retinal damage as a result of laser strikes, according to the National Post. Details on the Jazz pilot's condition, or on the other pilots — how many, degree of severity, eventual outcome — were not listed in the Post article. There were eye injury claims in February 2020 when an Ornge medical support aircraft was struck by a green laser in downtown Toronto, and an eye injury claim by a WestJet pilot flying from Newfoundland to Orlando in May 2019.

The article stated that "Most of the reports in the CADORS [aviation incident] database indicate that police were notified, but neither Transport Canada nor the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] could cite an example of anyone in Canada ever being prosecuted." [Note: LaserPointerSafety.com has found at least four cases of Canadian prosecutions.]

Canada has previously taken steps to reduce laser/aircraft incidents. These may be having some effect, as laser incidents have been dropping from a reported high of 658 in 2015, to 274 in 2019, according to the National Post article.

On June 28 2018 Transport Minister Marc Garneau banned the use of hand-held lasers 1 milliwatt or more (the power of a small pet laser pointer) in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and within 10 km of airports or heliports. There are exceptions for uses such as work, education, school or astronomy.

Any person with a battery-operated, handheld laser in a prohibited zone 1) outside of a private dwelling and 2) without a legitimate purpose can be fined immediately and “on the spot” up to CDN $5,000. A corporation violating the law can be fined up to CDN $25,000. The fines are in addition to any criminal prosecution; intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft can result in five years in prison and/or up to CDN $100,000 in fines.

On May 24 2016, Garneau announced a social media awareness campaign. This included setting up a webpage in June 2015 that includes a catchy animated video, “Dumb Ways to Blind” aimed at millennials, plus three other more conventional videos on the topic. Transport Canada also tweeted using the hashtag "#NotABrightIdea".

Section 7.41(1) of Part I of the Canadian Aeronautics Act is a general prohibition against behavior that endangers aircraft. It provides a fine of up to CDN $100,000 and up to five years in prison for interfering with the duties of a crew member. This has been cited by Transport Canada as part of its webpages discouraging persons from aiming at aircraft.

From the National Post, March 11 2020. Note that there has been a discrepancy between newspaper reports of the number of annual laser/aircraft incidents, and Transport Canada figures. For more information, see the Canada section on the Laser/aircraft incident statistics page. Thanks to Randy Paura for bringing this news to our attention.

US: Hobbyist modifies clear computer case to use laser beam illumination

A hobbyist building a custom computer has modified the case to have laser beams bouncing around the case, which features a clear side.


The laser in this photo is green, but other photos show it as red and blue (e.g., using a three-color or RGB laser module)


The cost of the laser mod was said to be about USD $50.

It appears the beam is fully enclosed within the case, so it could not enter a person's eye. However, if the case was jarred in such a way as to knock one or more mirrors out of alignment, then laser light could exit the case window.

Also, during construction or when the case was open, there would be a potential laser safety hazard.

One story on a gamer website noted the potential for eye injury, and to follow any applicable laws and regulations on laser possession and use.

From the Reddit r/nvidia subreddit, via PCGamesN.com

US: 2019 laser incidents up almost 10% compared to 2018

In 2019, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration received 6,213 reports from pilots of lasers being visible or illuminating their aircraft. While this is 16% fewer than the peak total of 7,398 reports in 2016, the 2019 total is up 9.7% from the 5,663 reports received in 2018.




During 2019 there were 17 laser incidents reported each night in the U.S., on average.

This brings the 15-year total to 54,860 incidents since 2004 when FAA first started requiring pilots to report laser sightings or illuminations.

The majority of reports continue to involve green lasers (87.2% of 2019 reports). However, reports of blue lasers have risen steadily, from 2.9% in 2016 to 8.2% in 2019.

Holiday lights do not seem to be a significant problem. In 2019 there were only 11 reports (out of 6,213) involving Christmas or holiday laser light projections.

The number of incidents with reported eye effects or claimed injuries was 31 in 2019, a significant increase over the 23 reported in 2018. There were no serious or permanent injuries. The most-reported effect was being flashblinded and/or seeing spots. Six pilots had pain, burning or irritation in their eye. Only three pilots sought or considered seeking medical attention for their eye effects — the lowest number in the seven years analyzed by LaserPointerSafety.com (2011, 2012, and 2015-2019).

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Additional charts showing U.S. and other country laser illuminations, are on the Laser/aircraft incident statistics page.