Illegal laser strikes on Northland's rescue helicopter fleet are increasing with police searching a home after pilots identified a rural property as the latest possible source.
In the incident on Sunday a crew experienced multiple laser strikes from the same property while enroute to Auckland Hospital and on their return flight about 8.30pm.
Two pilots were onboard so while one maintained control of the aircraft the other pinpointed the property where the laser had come from.
Area Commander for Waitemata North Inspector Bruce O'Brien said officers were quickly sent into the Stillwater area and went to a house.
However, no laser was located and no one was arrested or charged.
"This type of behaviour is a major safety issue and could have deadly consequences. Any person who is found to have pointed a laser at an aircraft will be prosecuted given the serious implications for not only the aircraft, but the public," O'Brien said.
It's not the first time the rescue helicopters have been targeted and anecdotally the number of strikes has increased.
The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed it had received eight reports of laser strike incidents from the Northland Emergency Services Trust in the past three years.
Senior pilot Steve Couchman, with 15 years' experience with the Northland Rescue Helicopter, said he was in the helicopter on Sunday and had previously experienced other strikes in the Hokianga when leaving a marae with a patient and another incident approaching landing in Whangarei.
"It has the potential to be a major distraction. The light comes into the aircraft and bounces around, reflecting off shiny surfaces. This type of incident is more prevalent than people think," Couchman said.
"It's a stupid thing to do and I can't believe people don't know it's totally illegal."
A CAA spokeswoman said laser strikes predominantly occurred during phases of flight where the demands on pilots' vision, attention, and co-ordination were greatest.
These phases are approach and landing, and take-off and climb-out.
"At these low-altitude, high-workload flight phases, the consequences of any temporary pilot-impairment or distraction are potentially catastrophic and could cause an extremely high level of public harm in the case of an accident.
"Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a reckless act that endangers the lives of others and there is just absolutely no justification for it," she said.
The CAA measures aircraft accidents in terms of social cost.
The maximum social cost for a single aviation accident of a commercial airliner would range between $193 million and $238m.
Last month police were investigating after a laser light was pointed at a plane flying out of Kerikeri Airport. The aircraft was flying at about 457m when the laser strike hit.
The Possession of High-Power Laser Pointers Amendment Act 2014 makes it illegal for anyone to have a high-power laser pointer in a public place.
Offenders face a maximum three months in prison or a $2000 fine.
Under the Crimes Act, people found guilty of "endangering transport" can face up to 14 years' imprisonment.