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. It poses a serious risk to pilots, passengers, and aviation safety. Never aim laser pointers at or near any aircraft.
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
Pointing a laser at an aircraft seriously threatens aviation safety. Lasers put the pilot, crew, passengers, and people on the ground at risk of injury or death. That’s why Transport Canada is working closely with police, other government departments, and the aviation industry to reduce the number of incidents.
A laser pointed into an aircraft could cause a major accident. It could also:
- Distract the pilot
- Create glare
- Cause temporary blindness
Big fines and jail time
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.
If you plan on projecting a laser into the sky, please complete a notice of proposal form.
Pilots can also report laser incidents to Transport Canada by completing the incident reporting form.
How strong are lasers?
A simple hand-held laser pointer can be more than a million times brighter than the average 100-watt light bulb. With scientific advances, more powerful laser pointers are now being built, which is why this technology should be used with care.
Why are laser pointers a big problem?
Laser pointers have serious effects that can distract and temporarily blind pilots. The greatest danger may be that the general public is simply unaware of the power and potential impact of lasers. While many people treat lasers like toys, it’s important to remember they can be dangerous.
If you seen someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, report it immediately to your local police.
Can I use lasers for astronomy?
As long as you don’t use high-power lasers, they can be used safely for astronomy. Remember to never shine a laser at any person, aircraft, vehicle or animal.
Contact your local astronomical society for more information on using laser safely.
How does Transport Canada enforce the regulations?
Transport Canada works with various agencies and police authorities to maintain a high level of aviation safety in Canada.
If an incident is reported to the department, one of our inspectors will verify that the rules were followed. Offenders found guilty under the Aeronautics Act can face serious fines and jail time.
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