Use laser pointers safely and legally
Aiming a laser at an aircraft is not a bright idea. Not only is it a federal offence, but laser strikes can temporarily blind the pilot, putting all the people on board the aircraft at serious risk. Never aim laser pointers at or near any aircraft.
Incidents of lasers pointed at aircraft continue to threaten aviation safety in Canada. In 2016, there were over 500 reported incidents. It’s a disturbing statistic – it means the safety of pilots, crew and passengers was put at risk over 500 times last year.
Pointing a laser at aircraft is a crime
Dangers of pointing a laser at an aircraft
A laser is not a toy. Pointing a laser at an aircraft puts the pilot, crew, passengers and people on the ground at serious risk. It can cause a major aircraft accident by:
- distracting the pilot
- creating glare that affects the pilot’s vision
- temporarily blinding the pilot
Fines and jail time for pointing a laser at an aircraft
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal and a criminal offence. Offenders will be charged. Under the Aeronautics Act, if you are convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft, you could face up to:
- $100,000 in fines
- 5 years in prison
- or both
What can you do?
If you see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, report it immediately to your local police. Pilots should report laser incidents to Transport Canada by completing the incident reporting form.
You can also educate others about the dangers of laser strikes by using the hashtag #NotABrightIdea.
Transport Canada reminds you to:
- Never aim a laser at an aircraft
- Report laser strikes immediately to local police
- Consider the legal consequences of using a laser
Lasers and astronomy
Lasers are often used in astronomy to point at stars or sky features. If you plan on aiming a laser into the sky, please complete a notice of proposal form. You can also speak with your local astronomy club – they may have additional information for you.
According to Transport Canada regulations, any person planning to project a laser into navigable airspace must get permission from the department. We give written permission if your laser use is not likely to:
- create a hazard to aviation safety
- cause damage to an aircraft
- cause injury to persons on board the aircraft
We may specify conditions necessary to ensure the safe use of the laser.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has produced a webpage with information and recommendations on green laser pointer usage.
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