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Air NZ calls for ban on hand-held lasers

Published: 4:18PM Friday September 21, 2012 Source: ONE News

  •  (Source: ONE News)
    Source: ONE News

Air New Zealand is calling for a ban on powerful hand-held laser devices.

The call comes after an Auckland teenager was today sentenced to four-and-a-half months home detention and six months probation for laser attacks on three commercial planes and a police helicopter earlier this year.

Pravikash Chandra pleaded guilty in July to four charges of endangering transport.

Air New Zealand's General Manager Airline Operations David Morgan said 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," he said.

Morgan said 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."

Today the Judge told the court Chandra didn't appear to realise just how serious the situation was, putting the lives of more than 600 people on board the planes at risk.

In sentencing, he took into account Chandra's guilty plea and effort to contact the pilots involved to apologise.