Police were late on Friday still waiting for someone to shine a light on whoever had shone a laser directly at the cockpit of an Air New Zealand aircraft landing at Hawke's Bay Airport, north of Napier.
Senior Sergeant Kevin Stewart, of Eastern Police District Command Centre, said the pilot of the flight from Wellington completed the Thursday night landing about 8pm and then contacted police reporting having been struck by the beam twice – both as it approached Napier and just before touchdown.
The landing was completed safely but it could have had much more "catastrophic consequences'" not only for those on board but also for the city on the ground.
Its seriousness is evident by the maximum penalty for endangering transport, which is 14 years' imprisonment, or up to three years in prison or a fine up to $2000 if convicted of possession of a high-powered laser.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The lasers can affect targets' sight, and have been known to cause permanent eye damage, even when directed from longer-distance.
There have been incidents in Hawke's Bay in the past, including a beam directed at a flight over Hastings two years ago, sparking more calls from the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association for possession of the lasers to be banned outright.
Police suspect a higher-powered laser might have been used on Thursday night, but Stewart said there was only one response for any member of the public aware of laser lights being directed at aircraft or vehicles. "Call 111," he said.
He called the latest action "unbelievably stupid", and added: "It's hard to comprehend why anyone would do it. It must be stopped."