Laser attacks can temporarily blind a pilot. Photo MCG

Laser targets planes in Princeton skies

The laser tracked two planes flying at 30,000 and 23,000 feet, for between 15 and 20 seconds each

Two aircraft were targeted by someone pointing a powerful laser in the sky, near Princeton, Sunday, Aug. 28.

The local police detachment received a call from Vancouver air traffic control at about 10:50 p.m., RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes told the Spotlight.

The laser was shone from the Allenby mountain area, and it tracked two planes flying at 30,000 and 23,000 feet, for between 15 and 20 each.

Commercial aircrafts typically fly at altitudes of between 31,000 and 38,000 feet, or 9.4 km and 11.5 km.

According to Transport Canada, aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense.

“Laser attacks can temporarily blind the pilot, putting all the people on board the aircraft at serious risk,” states the agency’s website.

“In 2019, there were nearly 250 reported laser strikes on aircraft in Canada.”

Anyone found guilty of intentionally interfering with the performance of a flight crew faces a fine of up to $100,000 and/or five years in prison.

For the most part it is legal to purchase and own lasers –which often resemble pens or flashlights – although there are restrictions.

No one is allowed to posses a laser pointer outside a private dwelling if it is more powerful than 1,000th of a Watt, (1mW), within 10 km of an airport or within the greater Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver areas.

Anyone may possess a hand-held laser anywhere in Canada if it is 1mW or less, and if it has a legitimate purpose such as work, school.

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