Lasers a threat to aircraft safety: CAA

2012-08-01 14:31
Picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shuttertstock</a>

Picture: Shuttertstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Midrand - The number of incidents of laser lights being used against aircraft is increasing, and causing a threat to safety, the SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Wednesday.

There had already been 170 incidents of a laser being pointed at an aircraft or at an air traffic control tower this year, said CAA director Zakhele Thwala at a media briefing in Midrand.

At this rate, there would be more incidents than last year when there were 175, he said.

"There's a huge concern from the airline industry... on the huge increase of their use," Thwala said.

The laser lights were a distraction to both aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers. They were usually laser pointers, easily available in electronics stores for as little as R150.

Air Line Pilots' Association SA representative Captain Margaret Viljoen said the laser light incidents were often at lower altitudes, such as take-off and landing, which were critical times for flights.

They were particularly dangerous when it was dark, because the flashing light was even more distracting then.

"Laser illuminations can interfere with pilot vision, potentially impacting the safety of a flight," Viljoen said.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research national laser centre manager Dr Ndumiso Cingo said that while there had not been an accident on record as caused by lasers, this might change in the future.

"These lasers are becoming more powerful and readily available, the chances of the lasers causing an incident are increasing," Cingo said.

Thwala said there was also the threat that the lights could cause permanent damage to the vision of pilots, affecting their ability to earn a livelihood.

Pranks


Thwala believed that the people flashing lasers at planes were not trying to cause accidents.

"It may not be malicious but it is dangerous," he said.

While the act of using a laser against aircraft might just be a prank, he said perpetrators could face serious consequences if they were caught. The penalties included a fine or up to 10 years' imprisonment.

However, few people had been caught in the act of using a laser against aircraft so far. Thwala said only three people had been caught, one each in Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

He said the person in Bloemfontein was caught because of the presence of the SA Air Force in the area. The person caught was a minor and eventually the charges were dropped.

The other cases in Durban and Johannesburg had dragged on in the courts and the CAA had lost track of them, Thwala said.

Viljoen said some people could be flashing lasers at aircraft because they had seen on television fictional scenarios where an aircraft was brought down by them. Others were just bored and entertaining themselves.

"There's my opinion that it's one individual: he's got his beer and his laser pointer and that's his evening fun," Viljoen said.

The bulk of the laser incidents had occurred at Cape Town airport, but almost all airports in the country had been affected.

Thwala warned that the lasers were not only a threat to the aircraft, but to the communities around an airport where a crash could take place.

He said the CAA would launch a public information campaign to educate the public on the hazards of flashing laser pointers at aircraft.
- SAPA

Read more on:    caa  |  air travel  |  aviation
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Muizenberg - 17:46 PM
    Road name: Boyes Drive Southbound
    HEAVY DELAYS through Kalk Bay towards Clairvaux Road due to motorists diverting from an earlier accident on Ou Kaapse Weg
  • Friday Bellville - 17:44 PM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Durban Road exit
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be putting too much effort into someone or something. You are doing it out of love and compassion but there is a chance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.