Laser strikes aimed at student pilots’ planes
Student pilots at the Massey University School of Aviation have been the target of laser strikes while night flying over Feilding.
MUSA business development and international programmes manager Anke Smith said they wanted assistance from the public to help catch the individual and put a stop to the recent spate of laser-strike occurrences.
“But it is also to inform the public of the issues around pointing lasers at aircraft.”
MUSA Safety and Quality Assurance manager Fraser Malcom said they were sure it was the same perpetrator as in the previous laser incidents.
“Our aircraft have been targeted by an individual with a high-powered laser with a blue beam in the Feilding area.”
He said pointing lasers at aircraft is a serious safety risk and can have hazardous effects on the pilots’ vision. Those effects are distraction, glare, afterimage, flash blindness, and even persistent or permanent visual impairment, and can affect their ability to fly safely.
“This is especially dangerous during critical phases of flight, landing and take-off.
“This issue is particularly concerning for us due to the fact our aircraft are conducting training flights, including solo night flights without an instructor on board.
“Although in most cases laser strikes only result in a distraction for pilots, it could result in an accident should the effects on the pilots’ vision be severe enough.”
Smith said the latest strike on March 15 was caught on video.
“This requires a community response and a collective attitude that this is not ‘cool’ behaviour in the very least.
“NZ Police have been informed obviously but any help the community can provide is much appreciated.”
The laser strikes recorded: February 24, 8.56pm, western side of Feilding, laser colour blue.
March 3, 9.58pm, north-west side of Palmerston North near Orlando Country Club, laser colour green.
March 12, 8.50pm, western side of Feilding, colour blue.
March 12, 9.21pm, north-west side of Feilding, colour blue.
March 13, 8.59pm, south-west side of Feilding, colour blue.
March 15, 8.56pm, west and South St vicinity, Feilding, colour blue.