Air New Zealand calls for ban on hand-held lasers

Friday 21 September 2012, 4:35PM
By Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is calling for a New Zealand ban on powerful hand-held laser devices to protect the safety of the travelling public following the sentencing today of a teenager who aimed lasers at three commercial aircraft and a police helicopter.

David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s General Manager Airline Operations, says the current legislative penalties for shining the lasers at pilots in control of aircraft are not proving to be a deterrent, and the number of incidents where these devices are being used to deliberately target aircraft is on the rise.

"Safety is paramount and non negotiable for Air New Zealand.  As the largest carrier of people to, from and within New Zealand we are calling on the Government to move swiftly to ban class 3 green-light laser devices.

“Laser pointing has the potential to distract pilots, impact their night vision and potentially cause eye damage.  The fact that these incidents occur during the critical phases of take off and landing makes the practice potentially very dangerous.  Failure to act to ban these devices runs the real risk that a thoughtless and reckless individual could cause an air accident,“ Captain Morgan says.

There are no legal barriers to the ownership of high power hand-held laser devices in New Zealand and Air New Zealand is calling for a ban on Class 3 green-light laser devices from being sold or owned here, which would bring New Zealand into line with Australian legislation on this issue.