TORONTO, Canada – The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, today launched the Government of Canada’s awareness campaign to inform Canadians of the dangers and consequences of pointing a laser at aircraft. Minister Garneau was joined by Superintendent Tony Cusimano from York Regional Police, who arrested an individual in August 2015 for allegedly pointing a laser at a police helicopter.
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous and puts pilots, passengers, and people on the ground at serious risk. Laser strikes distract pilots, cause glare that affects their vision, or worse, temporarily blind them. Pilots often report suffering from eye irritation or light sensitivity after being struck in the eye by a laser, which could seriously affect their ability to fly safely.
That’s why Transport Canada is asking the public to report laser strikes to local police if they witness them. Incidents can also be reported to the nearest Transport Canada regional office. The department is committed to working closely with the aviation community and local law enforcement, including York Regional Police, to put an end to these reckless incidents and educate the public on the risks laser strikes pose to everyone’s safety.
“Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not only a reckless act that puts people at unnecessary risk, it’s simply not a bright idea. As Minister of Transport, I take this type of behaviour seriously because Canadians and their families deserve to feel safe while flying. We want people to know there are serious consequences, including $100,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Transport Canada and law enforcement across the country are working together to ensure offenders face the fullest force of the law.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
“Members of the York Regional Police Air Support Unit know all too well the dangers of being struck by a laser beam. When up in the air, our pilots need their full attention to be on the task at hand – flying safely. They can’t do that when they are distracted by lights being directed into the cockpit. At best, lasers are a distraction for pilot, but at worst, they can temporarily blind them, risking everyone’s safety.”
Chief Eric Jolliffe
Chief of Police, York Regional Police
• In 2015, nearly 600 laser strike incidents were reported to Transport Canada, an increase from the 502 incidents reported in 2014. In 2016, that number stands at 148 incidents, from January to April.
• Offenders can face $100,000 in fines, up to five years in prison, or both.
• Lasers can distract pilots, cause glare that affects their vision, or temporarily blind them.