Laser pointers are now commonly used in our offices, classrooms and sometimes gifted as toys to our children. The small handheld device which emits a very narrow laser beam of visible light can be a distraction to a pilot onboard an aircraft.
In the past few years, there have been many reported incidents of such lasers being pointed at aircraft in flight, especially during takeoff and landing. In Seychelles instances have been reported in the vicinity of Petit Paris at Cascade and on Praslin. But, is the recreational use of pointer lasers just harmless fun, or do they pose a real danger to aircraft operating around our aerodromes?
A laser pointer can be harmful to operating flights in many ways:
- Distractions: Lasers become an unnecessary distraction when crew must focus their attention on takeoff, landing and safety procedures.
- Flash blindness and potential eye injuries: Due to the high intensity of the light, pilots can experience temporary blindness and can potentially damage their sight in the long term as well.
- Glare: The beam is much larger at long distances and the light can spread so much that the pilots cannot avoid it, causing their inability to see past the light.
Pointing lasers at aircraft is not only dangerous and irresponsible, in fact, it is against the law. The Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (Part 6 Reg. 25) states that: “A person shall not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to cause danger to an aircraft or any person in an aircraft.”
We must remember that all aircraft carry many passengers, including our family members and loved ones. It is important that we do not let anything compromise their safety.
So, what can we do to help reduce the risk of lasers interfering with operating aircraft?
- Avoid using lasers around airport zones;
- Do not point lasers at any aircraft, vehicle or person;
- Do not give lasers to young children to play with, unless under adult supervision;
- Educate your children and others around you of the potential dangers lasers pose to flight crew as well as the consequences involved.
If you see anyone willfully targeting aircraft with lasers advise the Seychelles police immediately.
Pointing lasers at aircraft is not only dangerous and irresponsible its is also against the law