dozen potentially dangerous laser strikes on aircraft have
been reported in Otago and Southland, as tough new controls
on laser pointers come into effect.
Last year, a record 119 laser strikes on aircraft were
recorded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), compared with
10 strikes reported in 2006.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said yesterday the new
controls would restrict hand-held high-power laser pointers
with a power output of 1MW.
Now, anyone wanting to import, sell or acquire high-powered
laser pointers would need to apply to the Ministry of Health
for approval, she said.
The CAA recorded five laser-strike incidents on planes so far
this year, including a recent international flight landing at
A CAA spokesman said large and medium-sized passenger
aircraft were the most commonly targeted, and ''this means
that laser strikes have the potential to cause an extremely
high level of public harm in the case of an accident''.
Most of the laser strikes occurred during approach and
landing, takeoff and climb-out.
''At these low-level, high-workload flight phases, the
consequences of any temporary pilot-impairment or distraction
are potentially catastrophic,'' he said.
Laser strikes could cause temporary flash blindness, which
posed a serious risk to pilots. In 2011, a laser was pointed
into an Air New Zealand cockpit while the plane was
approaching Dunedin International Airport.
The pilot was able to pinpoint the location of the culprits
and two young boys were given a warning by police in
connection with the incident.
Cases of laser strikes against aircraft since 2006.
• Northland/Auckland ... 158
• Waikato ... 57
• BOP, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay ... 23
• Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui ... 30
• Wellington ... 53
• Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough ... 12
• West Coast ... 1
• Canterbury ... 42
• Otago, Southland ... 12
• No accurate location ... 3