Laser Strikes and Aircraft


Statement from the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association

For immediate release


18 April 2018

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) today called for the prohibition of high-powered laser pointers following two more reported incidences of flight crew and passenger lives being put in danger through reckless use of the devices.   

NZALPA President Tim Robinson said that NZALPA technical specialists estimate aircraft approaching and departing New Zealand airports continue to experience laser attacks, on average, every month,  and it’s an issue that other countries have dealt with the threat through complete prohibition on the possession of these devices.


“We continue to press Parliament and regulators for laser attacks to be taken seriously – raising their status as an offence equivalent to such acts as high jacking and bomb threats, collectively known as ‘Acts of illegal interference’.


“What makes it worse is that  it is likely the perpetrators will never be found.  This is a constant source of frustration for ourselves and law enforcement agencies


“I’ve talked with pilots who have experienced similar laser strikes when trying to land a plane, often with many passengers and crew on board.  They describe the confusion, temporary blindness and the resulting headaches as one of the most terrifying thing they’ve ever gone through,” said Mr Robinson.  


In New Zealand perpetrators can be prosecuted under the Summary Offences (possession of high-power laser pointers), Crimes Act 1961 (endangering transport) and the Civil Aviation Act 1990.  Under the Summary Offences Act sentences can include up to three months in prison or a fine of up to $2,000.


Under the most punitive of the three acts, the Crimes Act, a perpetrator could face up to 14 years in jail. 


“Of course, for this to be possible, the laser pointer and the person who used it needs to be actually found – often hiding under the cover of darkness and having already fled the scene.


“How many times do we have to remind those in power that lasers are not toys and pilots and air traffic controllers have been very concerned that it would only be a matter of time before a serious accident would result from such dangerous and irresponsible use?”  Robinson asked.    



Media contact:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441  or Georgina Thomas 021 329 907