There have been at least 200 reported laser strikes on aircraft in New Zealand since new legislation was brought in to curb the issue. Photo/NZ Herald.

Aircraft struck in 21 laser strikes

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At least 200 aircraft have been hit nationwide by lasers in the last two years, with 21 of these laser strikes taking place in Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast.

Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show the law – which was established in July 2014 – has had little effect on the number of reported incidents, with 2016 on track to have the most aircraft laser strikes since at least 2009.

This year, there have been 108 reports of laser strikes, already more than last year’s total and second only to 2013’s 117 incidents.

The July 2014 amendment to the Summary Offences Act 1981 made possession of a high-powered laser pointer without reasonable excuse an imprisonable offence.

Offenders could be imprisoned for up to three months or receive a fine of up to $2000.

A few months earlier, the Government ushered in new controls to restrict the availability of high-powered laser pointers – defined as more than 1 milliwatt – without authorisation.

New Zealand Airline Pilots Association president Tim Robinson told NZME targeting aircraft with lasers was incredibly dangerous.

“If it continues to happen you roll the dice and the chances of a very serious accident occurring is just a matter of time,” said Robinson.

He said when the beams struck the cockpit an enormous blinding light filled the flight deck as pilots were often in the hand-operated phase of flying.

“They are having to turn away from the bright light and shield their eyes. It’s incredibly disorientating and it confuses them.”

 

Laser Strike Reports

  • Auckland/Northland – 328
  • Waikato, Taranaki, BoP, Hawke’s Bay – 132
  • Palmerston North, Whanganui – 46
  • Wellington, Otaki – 91
  • Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast – 21
  • Christchurch, Otago, Southland – 133

 

– Story with NZ Herald.