Dan­ger from be­low

Air­craft crews are con­cerned over lasers

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - NEWS - Rachel Ver­coe rachel.ver­coe@coff­s­coas­tad­vo­cate.com.au

THE West­pac Res­cue Life Saver He­li­copter Ser­vice has aired its con­cern that some­one shone a high-pow­ered laser at its crew as they re­sponded to an emer­gency over the Coffs Coast.

Fly­ing at 5000 feet, the chop­per was flashed by the laser from the ground last week.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened as the emer­gency he­li­copter was tasked to search for an ac­ti­vated emer­gency lo­ca­tor bea­con in the Coffs Har­bour area last Tues­day at 1am.

As the he­li­copter nar­rowed down on an lo­ca­tion for the bea­con in the Sawtell/Boam­bee area, the air­craft was flashed by the laser.

Roger Fry from the West­pac Life­save He­li­copter ser­vice in Lis­more said the ef­fects of a crew mem­ber be­ing hit by the laser in the eyes could cause se­ri­ous prob­lems for not just the in­di­vid­ual, but every­one on board.

“I don’t think peo­ple think of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions, we’ve only got one pi­lot on board, if they’re af­fected by the laser, it it will make land­ing very dif­fi­cult or po­ten­tially im­pos­si­ble,” Mr Fry said.

“This is not the first time this has hap­pened down this way.

“We’ve been pinged at a few dif­fer­ent places.

“When you’re look­ing out is when you might be hit, it’s not some­thing you’ll feel un­til it’s hap­pened.

“Lasers can travel great dis­tances but you can of­ten never see where the dot is. How these peo­ple can means they have a very good sys­tem which is a con­cern for he­li­copters and air crafts fly­ing into the area.

At the week­end a teenager was ar­rested in Syd­ney af­ter he al­legedly shone a laser at a Po­lair he­li­copter.

The tar­geted air­craft no­ti­fied po­lice on ground who started in­ves­ti­ga­tions and a short time later, ar­rested a 17-year-old boy and seized the laser pointer.

In 2008, the NSW gov­ern­ment passed leg­is­la­tion mak­ing it pos­si­ble for po­lice to search any­one they be­lieve may be car­ry­ing a laser pointer.

Un­less they have a le­git­i­mate rea­son for car­ry­ing one they can face fines of up to $5000.

A study by the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau in 2016 found that from 2010 to 2014, laser strikes were the sec­ond lead­ing cause of flight crew in­ca­pac­i­ta­tion.

For more in­for­ma­tion on lasers and the law, visit laser­point­er­safety.com

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