B.C. RCMP investigating after lasers hit 3 different flights
Published Saturday, September 27, 2014 12:53PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 27, 2014 2:50PM EDT
Police in Richmond, B.C., are investigating after three flights arriving and departing from the Vancouver airport were hit by lasers this past week.
Richmond RCMP said all three cases happened at the Vancouver International Airport on Monday.
The light from the lasers is potentially blinding for pilots and it is illegal to point them at airplanes. Under the Aeronautics Act, someone convicted of pointing a laser into an aircraft cockpit in Canada could face up to five years in prison and face fines up to $100,000.
When the light from the laser fills the cockpit, it can cause irreparable damage to the retina if a pilot take a direct hit.
The RCMP said nobody was injured in the three cases. Officers tracked the laser pointer to the nearby Steveston area, but weren't able to find the person responsible.
Also Monday, a WestJet flight originating from Vancouver was hit by a laser while landing in Ottawa. That plane landed safely, but both pilots suffered eye injuries.
WestJet spokesperson Brie Ogle said the light lit up the flight deck for about four minutes.
"We take the health and safety of our pilots, crew and everybody at WestJet very seriously, and when someone jeopardizes that, we don't take too kindly to it," she said.
According to Transport Canada, when a laser is directed into an airplane cockpit it can cause the following hazards: distractions for the pilot and co-pilot, glare and temporary flash-blindness.
"In the worst-case scenario, these effects could cause a major accident," the agency says on its website.
The agency said there were 461 reported incidents last year of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by lasers.
The use of lasers and hobby drones is becoming a growing concern among the aviation industry.
Last July, the RCMP and Transport Canada launched a joint investigation after a near miss between a drone and an aircraft taking off from Vancouver's airport.
Richmond B.C. Sgt. Cam Kowlaski is part of an aviation safety committee that’s lobbying the federal government to enact legislation around laser use near airports.
With files from CTV Vancouver and The Canadian Press