Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beech King Air 300: Police want to shed light on laser lout. Kamloops Airport, British Columbia - Canada.

This was a laser show that could have lit up the night sky with carnage.

Police and airport officials are left with little to go on after a potentially catastrophic incident in Kamloops on the night of Wednesday, Jan. 25.

At about 7:15 p.m., a pilot flying a Beech 300 aircraft at 24,000 feet contacted air-traffic control at Kamloops Airport to report a green laser being continuously directed at his plane.

The pilot said the laser was coming from somewhere in the Rayleigh area. He described the light as "bright and throbbing."

The air-traffic controller called Kamloops Mounties, who sent an officer to Rayleigh.

"We weren't able to locate the source," Kamloops RCMP Const. Bernie Ward told KTW.

"We stayed out there for an hour-and-a-half in the area, looking for any green light emitting from any residences or hillsides."

Ward said the pilot reported the laser was impeding his vision.

The plane, being flown by a commercial operator from Prince George to Kamloops, landed safely.

However, according to Kamloops Airport manager Fred Legace, the laser could have done a lot of damage.

"They're dizzying and blinding to the pilots, so that's the issue," Legace said.

"If it's dark out, the pilot loses night vision and can lose contact with the ground visually. It could potentially be catastrophic."

Lasers being pointed at aircraft has become a problem in larger cities in recent years, especially in the United States.

This is believed to be the first such incident in Kamloops.

"I can never recall hearing something like this from Kamloops before," Ward said, noting the culprit could potentially face serious charges if caught.

"It could be mischief or it could even be something like attempted manslaughter, because you could take a plane down.

"If you knew this person was actually trying to make the plane crash, the charge could be very serious."

Last summer, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced a plan to impose civil penalties — in the form of $11,000 fines — on anyone caught shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft.

American government figures indicate there were an estimated 2,800 incidents in the U.S. in 2010.

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