The Airline Pilots Association is calling on the federal government to make pointing a laser at an aircraft a criminal offence after one of its members was hospitalized in a laser attack last month. “Without a doubt we consider this to be very much an issue, a pressing issue,” ALPA Canadian President Tim Perry told the National Post. “The potential is there to harm the pilot at a critical phase of flight.” The Jazz first officer was pilot flying on final for Ottawa when he was hit with a beam fired from an estimated three km. away. He handed control to the captain and after the uneventful landing was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Although there are sections of the Criminal Code that cover such incidents, Perry wants a specific law against it. At the moment, the only laser and aircraft-specific infraction is an interim order in the Aeronautics Act. It bans the outdoor possession of lasers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and their surrounding municipalities and within 10 km radius of a certified aerodrome. Police can enforce the regulation and levy fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations. There are exemptions for lawful use (such as astronomy) of the devices. The interim order was enacted in 2018 and was intended as a stopgap until a permanent legal deterrent can be formulated.