Lasers were aimed at aircraft flying over Island, alarming pilots

Several aircraft flying over Vancouver Island have reported being targeted by lasers, with four incidents recorded in a four-day period.

A pilot of a Cessna-152 was flying toward Victoria at around 5,500 feet on June 29 when the pilot noticed the underside of the plane’s wings reflecting flashing green light, according to a Transport Canada incident report.

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The pilot turned a few degrees to the left and right to check whether the light was coming from another aircraft or was an aviation-related signal.

“The occurrence lasted for approximately 30 seconds, during which the laser emitted a constant green beam that was moved around rapidly while aiming at the aircraft. The movement resembled the way a person would hold a handheld laser while pointing it at an object in the distance,” the report said.

The pilot determined the laser beam originated from a residential area near Saltair, just north of Chemainus.

The pilot tried not to look directly at the light, and their vision was not noticeably impaired, according to the report.

Moments later, a helicopter in the area also reported seeing the light from a laser originating around Chemainus.

The pilot of a third aircraft flew through the area around the same time and reported seeing a laser as well. That pilot believed the laser came from Saltair.

The pilot of the third plane reported noticing “green flashes reflecting off of the underside of its wings that lasted 10 seconds” on June 26 but did not realize it may have been from a laser.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal offence.

“Laser attacks can temporarily blind the pilot, putting all the people on board the aircraft at serious risk,” Transport Canada says.

Anyone convicted of intentionally interfering with an aircraft by using a laser can face up to five years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Transport Canada says anyone who sees someone pointing a laser at an aircraft should call their local police immediately.

In 2019, there were nearly 250 reported laser strikes on aircraft in Canada, according to Transport Canada.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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