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NZALPA supports conviction in Police helicopter laser case

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) supports the conviction and the sentence handed down today to a teenager who shone a laser at three aircraft and then the police eagle helicopter in January this year. NZALPA President Glen Kenny says "the sentence handed down today has sent a clear message; pointing lasers at aircraft is not acceptable."

"Laser strikes are not just an attack on the pilots; they are an attack on the travelling public and can at best be described as reckless and dangerous." This defendant’s actions in January could have had serious consequences for the passengers on the affected flights. The sentencing today highlights the seriousness of pointing a laser at an aircraft and the danger in the actions of this teenager.

At best laser strikes are a distraction and at worst they can cause temporary blindness, or even permanent eye damage, and at a critical phase of flight for an aircraft, on approach and close to landing; this is extremely dangerous.

Laser strikes are a trend that has increased over the past couple of years, and it is now high time the Government addressed the issue and introduced regulations on the sale of these devices and a public education campaign. "It has reached a stage where any member of the public can purchase a commercial grade laser and do what they please with it" states Mr Kenny. Removing access to Class 3 lasers by way of regulation is a first step to addressing the laser issue.

Australia introduced changes in 2008 that banned the importation of lasers that emit a beam stronger 1mW. Mr Kenny said "the Australian Government’s changes reclassified the laser as a weapon; NZALPA would like this introduced in New Zealand to mitigate the threat of Class 3 lasers."

NZAPA is committed to working with the aviation industry, Police, the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority to develop solutions to mitigate this threat. Mr Kenny says "This is about protecting the general public from a senseless act that could one day have fatal consequences whether that is an aircraft, or another form of public transport."

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