Government of Canada takes action to protect Canadians from laser attacks on aircraft

News release

Safety measures restrict possession of hand-held lasers, allow for on-the-spot fines of up to $25,000

June 28, 2018    Montréal    Transport Canada

Canadians expect to feel safe on the ground and in the sky. Despite past and ongoing safety awareness campaigns, there are still too many cases of laser attacks on aircraft. These attacks continue to put the safety of Canadians and flight crew at risk, prompting immediate safety measures to restrict battery-operated hand-held lasers, and further action to strengthen enforcement powers.

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced a new measure which prohibits the possession of battery-operated hand-held laser over 1 milliwatt (mW) outside of a private dwelling without a legitimate purpose, such as for work, school, or education purposes.

This Interim Order takes effect immediately and applies to:

  • municipalities within the greater Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver regions
  • a 10-kilometre radius around any airport or certified heliport across Canada

The new measure allows Transport Canada and delegated law enforcement to issue fines on the spot to anyone who possesses a hand-held laser within a prohibited zone without a legitimate reason. The maximum fines are $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a corporation.

In addition to the Interim Order, Transport Canada is also designating laser attacks on aircraft as offences subject to immediate fines under the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

A laser is not a toy. Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can distract the pilot during the most critical phases of take-off, descent and landing and interfere with their ability to land safely. Anyone convicted of doing this intentionally could also face up to $100,000 in fines, five years in prison or both.

Please visit www.Canada.ca/Not-A-Bright-Idea to learn more about the new safety measures as well as the dangers and consequences of laser attacks.


Quotes

“I take very seriously the increased risk to aviation safety and to people on the ground caused by lasers. That is why I am proceeding with these new safety measures which take effect immediately—to enhance the safety of aviation and the public while we work to bring into force permanent regulations.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau                                       
Minister of Transport

“Crime Stoppers programs across Canada are pleased to partner with Transport Canada to create awareness and education on the severe risk to public safety caused by shining laser lights at aircraft. We encourage the public to report to the police, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers, anyone that puts at risk any aircraft, its passengers and crew by committing this senseless act.”

David Forster
President, Canadian Crime Stoppers Association

“We commend the federal government on the Interim Order, and look forward to seeing the positive benefits that will come about through proposed amendments to existing regulations, along with increased education and awareness, and the implementation of additional tools for law enforcement and Transport Canada inspectors.”

Captain Dan Adamus
President, Air Line Pilots Association Canada

Quick facts

  • In 2017, Transport Canada received 379 reports of laser attacks in Canadian airspace. From January 1 to April 30, 2018, there have been 63 reported laser attacks.

  • Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous and puts pilots, passengers, and people on the ground at serious risk.

  • Laser attacks distract pilots, cause glare that affects their vision, or worse, temporarily blinds 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 control of the aircraft and their ability to fly safely. This puts everyone’s safety at risk.

  • Transport Canada is seeking feedback on laser use and safety issues and invites Canadians to share their views by participating in an online discussion forum, Let’s Talk Lasers.

Associated links

Contacts

Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
613-991-0700
delphine.denis@tc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055
media@tc.gc.ca


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