Laser strikes aimed at stu­dent pi­lots’ planes

Manawatu Guardian - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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