Lights pointed at planes flying to Whangarei Airport

By Kristin Edge

Reports of laser lights or spotlights being shone at two planes flying to Whangarei Airport have alarmed police and aviation officials who say the reckless behaviour could be fatal. Police now want help to track the culprits.
Pilots flying north to land at Whangarei last Thursday both reported bright lights being shone at their aircraft as they flew over land south of the city.
Senior Constable Martin Geddes, of Waipu, said he was notified by the police communications centre in Auckland after the pilot of an incoming plane reported the bright lights about 7.32pm. A pilot on a flight arriving a short time later also reported a bright light.
They described the location of the lights as south of Springfield in the area of Ormiston Rd. Police drove through the area but could not find anything suspicious.
"It's extremely dangerous and there are provisions under the Crimes Act that allow people to be charged," Mr Geddes said.
"It could be a prank but it could be more serious. If anyone knows anything they can contact police in confidence."
A charge of endangering transport carries a maximum term of 14 years' imprisonment.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said green laser beams were much more dangerous to aircraft than red ones. They have a higher power rating and were 30 times brighter to the eye than red beams.
Mr Sommer said pilots were usually lasered on approach for landing.
"That's a time of major concentration. A laser can be a major distraction and cause temporary blindness," he said.

"I don't know why anyone would do it. It could have fatal consequence."
Last month two Auckland teenagers were charged after shining a laser at the police Eagle helicopter as it searched for a stolen car.
They face one charge each of endangering transport.
In March, 17-year-old Mt Roskill teen Joseph Mark James Corban was charged after allegedly shining a green laser at the Eagle.
Police allege he pointed the laser while playing with a 16-year-old friend.
The week before Corban's arrest a passenger plane in Sydney was targeted by a laser as it approached Bondi Beach.

- Northern Advocate

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