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Prison sentence for laser pointer applauded by NZ Air Line Pilots Association

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) today applauded the prison sentence handed down to a Christchurch man who endangered passenger aircraft with a high-powered laser pointer.

“As working pilots, our members and I are thrilled that the judiciary is taking this issue seriously in handing down a 10 week custodial sentence,” NZALPA President Tim Robinson said.

 “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.”

 “NZALPA has been sending out the message to both the regulatory authorities and the judiciary that custodial sentences may be a real deterrent to stop this kind of behaviour and actions that could quickly turn deadly,” Mr Robinson said.

 The man was originally charged with recklessly shining a laser light at a passenger plane, and the airport control tower, but pleaded guilty to the two new charges of causing unnecessary danger to the people aboard a Virgin Airlines passenger plane and a New Zealand Post Metroliner.

 “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.

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