Aiming a laser at an aircraft? Not a Bright Idea
Use laser pointers safely and legally
Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal offence and can put people at serious risk. Never aim laser pointers at or near any aircraft.
Incidents of lasers pointed at aircraft are rising in Canada. In 2015, there were almost 600 reported incidents. It’s a dangerous statistic– that means the safety of pilots, crew, and passengers was put at risk nearly 600 times last year. That means pilots report more than 10 laser incidents a week.
Pointing a laser at aircraft is a crime.
The number of incidents of lasers pointed at aircraft is rising in Canada. In 2014 there were 502 reported incidents – a 43% increase since 2012. On average, pilots report laser incidents more than once a day.
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 and can also:
- distract the pilot
- create glare that affects the pilot’s vision
- cause temporarily blindness
Fines and jail time for pointing at 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 point a laser at an aircraft, report it immediately to your local police. Pilots are encouraged to 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 #NotABrightIdea.
Transport Canada reminds you to:
- Never aim a laser at an aircraft
- Report laser strikes immediately to local police
- Consider the legal consequences
Lasers and astronomy
If you plan on aiming a laser into the sky, please complete a notice of proposal form. 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. The department issues written authorization if the projection is not likely to create a hazard to aviation safety or to cause damage to an aircraft or injury to persons on board the aircraft. Transport Canada may specify in the authorization any 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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